Despite all odds, Psy’s success may simply be a mix of luck and cultural awareness
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/04/2012 -- Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has been viewed over 260 million times on YouTube alone. For anyone that has watched it, the reason is simple.
There is no need to be able to speak or understand Korean to enjoy the quirky song. All one needs is to know how to tell if someone is having a good time and being rather silly. Yet, beneath the playful video and seemingly light-hearted spirit of the video is a rather pointed commentary.
Gangnam is the affluent district, where many highbrow individuals live and work. Gangnam is only a sliver of Seoul, but its standing in the country plays host to the songs mixture of envy, interest, and disdain.
Gangnam is easily the most coveted address in Korea, as it is home to the most affluent “somebodies” of the Korean nation. However, less than two generations ago, the town was no more than a rural farmland, filled with drainage ditches.
The name literally means “South of the River” and the location is roughly half the size of Manhattan. Only 1% of Seoul’s population lives in the district, and doing so means one is rather well off.
Gangnam is unlike other prominent districts, being a home to mostly new and self-made moguls, rather than millionaires made through heiring. Following the early 2000?s frenzy to grab residences in the district, land managers and rich investors made money hand-over-fist.
The plethora of new wealth lured in high-priced boutiques, furniture and clothing emporiums, and plastic surgery clinics. It also brought with it top-notch education from private tutoring and preschools.
“Gangnam inspires both envy and distaste,” said Kim Zakka, a Seoul-based pop music critic. “Gangnam residents are South Korea’s upper class, but South Koreans consider them self-interested, with no sense of noblesse oblige.”
One could say that Psy’s song is capable of pushing some cultural buttons, without being too heavy about the entire deal.
Psy, the man who made the now famous song, is not your average K-Pop performer. Psy has done what no other K-Pop performer could do, and cracked the American market. This, while his almost dumpy 34-year old frame seems to defy the American ideal of pop star.
“I’m not handsome, I’m not tall, I’m not muscular, I’m not skinny,” Psy recently said on NBC’s “Today” show. “But I’m sitting here.”
“People in America are comfortable with Asian guys who look like Jackie Chan and Jet Li, who are good-looking, but they’re not the equivalent of Brad Pitt or Keanu Reeves,” Kim said.
Part of the initial interest in “Gangnam Style,” Kim said, was a kind of “freak-show mentality, where people are like,
This guy is funny.’ But then you look at his choreography and you realize that you really have to know how to dance to do what he does. He’s really good.”
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