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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Psy's past comes back to bite him . . .

The Kiwi has consciously chosen not to join the ranks of amateur psychologists cum journalists hunting for meaning in Psy's viral hit "Gangnam Style" but chooses not to ignore the rampant hypocrisy that was pointed out to her last week. Or the inadvertent irony of members of the U.S. military filming their own tributes to the song without knowing Psy's past.

To put this in context, one needs to go back to 2002 when two schoolgirls were killed in a tragic accident involving a U.S. armored vehicle. The incident was taken advantage of to spread anti-American feeling with the narrative being that it was a deliberate murder. Candle-light vigils became a regular event as did rampant anti-foreigner rhetoric. Anyone Caucasian was considered American and the Kiwi was spat on herself by an elderly Korean man and told to "Go back to America" - difficult when I'm not from there. GI Korea writing on the Rokdrop Web site has a better and well-researched explanation than I can manage from memory.

Fast forward to August 2002, when Psy took up the cause, tapping into the groundswell of nationalism to come out against the United States, at least until it embraced his song and brought him those oh-so-desirable greenbacks. The following is from a Korea Herald story datelined Dec. 5, 2002:

'Socially Active Celebrities' Now Supporting ROK's Anti-American 'Cause'

Anti-American sentiment ignited by the deaths of two Korean schoolgirls run over by a U.S. armored vehicle in June has finally boiled over to the local entertainment industry. 

Following the acquittals of two U.S. soldiers from negligent homicides charges late last month, a growing number of local celebrities have offered their heart-felt sympathy with the victims in public, while expressing their strong resentment over what they see as an unfair ruling by the American military court. 

These public figures have composed protest songs against America to pitch in their voice, join public rallies, or have gone as far as calling for revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which governs the status of 37,000 American troops stationed here, through official statements. 

Even though these pop stars have managed to put in their own two cents' worth, pop vocalist Psy, who has upheld the cause since August through many concerts, is among the most outspoken of them all. 

What price social consciousness when you're trying to sell records and concert tickets, it seems.

From the same story:

During the opening show for the 2002 Music Video Contest held last weekend, the 25-year-old singer belted out "Killer" with a plastic model of an armored vehicle and smashed the plastic prop onto the floor in the middle of his show. Psy went on to beat it with the microphone stand into pieces, sparking a thunderous roar of agreement and excitement from the audience, mostly teens. 
If that description seems far-fetched, you may find the You Tube video a good deal less endearing than his more recent offering. One face for his Korean fans, a totally different face for the world's largest economy. Hypocrisy, thine name is Psy . . .

ADDENDUM: It has been pointed out to me I perhaps should add in a translation of the lyrics to "Killer." I did not, because I do not speak Korean, but here is what they have been translated elsewhere as:

"Torture them slowly
Those GIs who tortured captured Iraquis
Torture them, kill them slowly
Those GIs who fuck she-dogs and he-dogs
Torture them, kill them slowly
And their daughters, moms, pas and daughter-in-laws
Torture them, kill them slowly
To the fatal consummation of their fucking pain

If there is a bilingual reader of this blog that can tell me if that is an accurate translation, I would greatly appreciate your input.


  1. Very revealing. I guess my teenage daughter now has good reason to hate the song, instead of hating it just because it's silly. I was a member of the unit you describe (1/9 Inf BN), having left the very exercise just 3 days before the accident and PCS'ing south, where within weeks I brought my family over. Summer protesting season over there was interesting to say the least, even as far south as we were -- and some of the things I know from people who were on the accident's scene would make you cringe.

  2. I am also aware of the personal aftermath suffered by the two soldiers involved, and find it incredible that some followers of DM either defended the "protests" or said it is old news and therefore irrelevant. They obviously don't know Korea.
    I'm not sure how an entertainer urging violence against Americans is any different than a mullah doing the same, yet people feel he should be given a pass because he obviously "loves Americans" - change that to loves American dollars and I might agree.

  3. The performance video, here: - what a jerk.

  4. So, are Koreans supposed to be able to tell the few guilty Americans apart from the rest of us? Sheesh, that's asking a lot.

    Next, you'll be saying it's wrong to piss on the corpses of dead muslims, as if they're not ALL responsible for 9/11.

  5. What is really funny about him hating Americans is that he got his college education in Boston, MA at the Berkley college of Music. Wow no more listening to that song in my house.