Wednesday, December 1, 2010 at 5:43PM
“Kamsameda” is how you say “thank you” in Korean. I learned this last week in Chuncheon when I was there as a judge at a film festival. Since people there are quite accommodating and helpful knowing this comes in handy. As chair of our jury I began my speech at the closing ceremonies by saying this: “I can’t help noticing that today is my 55th birthday. I want to thank you all for showing up for the party.” It was a comic gambit. I wanted to be funny. But I also wanted people to know it was my birthday. I’ve long gotten over the male stoicism bit: “Oh, if only they’d known!” I ask for what I want. I wanted a party; I got a party. About 40 of us took over a nearby bar – “Joker, Joker.” We drank soju and beer and ate Kentucky Fried Chicken. Two delicious cakes were presented, complete with candles. I said I was glad they didn’t test my wind with all 55 candles. They sang “Happy Birthday” to me in English and sang the Korean version – far more upbeat and memorable than the American song.
One of my pet projects is to get people to stop singing “Happy Birthday.” The damn song is copyrighted. Look it up. Patty and Mildred something. Two sisters from Kentucky. When they died they left all resulting royalties to a publishing company that was supposed to pay out to a boys orphanage. A worthy cause, no doubt. But the devil’s megacorp Warner Chappell bought the rights in 1990 and has milked them ever since. You will have to pay to use the song in a film through the year 2030, even documentaries. I recollect I paid $5k to license under 15 seconds of it for HOOP DREAMS in 1994. 8 years later when they wanted more than that for 8 seconds of it in my film BOYS TO MEN I said “screw you” and cut the scene out.
So STOP SINGING IT! Try the Korean version. The French. Anything else.