PSY Caught Up In Anti-American Controversy: How will ‘Gangnam Style’ Be Affected?

“You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Harvey Dent might just have been speaking about South Korean pop sensation PSY when he said that. Actually, I think he was talking about Batman, but so what? Today, it’s a message that PSY is learning the hard way.Due to the massive success of his hit single “Gangnam Style,” the world has seen a massive amount of curiosity spring up regarding the diminutive Asian. Where did he come from? When’s his birthday? Has he ever preached violently anti-American sentiments through song? Today, we learn the answer to that third one is apparently “yes.” Whoops.

PSY, who currently has the most-watched video in YouTube’s history, has just come under fire with the recent revelation that at an anti-America concert in Seoul in 2004, he rapped “Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully.”

The lyrics are from a song entitled “Dear America” and performed by PSY when he was with K-pop band N.EX.T. I’ve listened to the song; I can’t understand a damn word, but it sounds angry.

In PSY’s defense, South Korea during that period was pretty strongly anti-America. Like scads of my fellow ignorant Americans, I’ve just always blithely assumed that South Korea liked us. I thought they liked our A-1 joe supercool style, the way we sided with them during the Korean War, and I thought their women enjoyed our huge American p*nises. Turns out, there is a lot of resentment over there towards the stars and stripes (and it’s not just the p*nis thing!).

In 2002, two 13-year old Korean girls were killed by an American military vehicle. Many people wanted the driver of the vehicle to be brought up on charges, and were angered when he was not (it was deemed a military exercise, and as such, not bound by Korea’s laws). PSY was one of the main outspoken Korean entertainers during that time, but he was also just a voice in the crowd. One Gallup poll taken at the time revealed that 75% of Koreans in their 20s disliked or outright hated Americans. Then two years later, anti-American sentiment swelled again with the beheading of a Korean missionary by Muslim extremists. While much of the country’s rage was pointed at the Middle East and the war at large, a coalition of anti-American military protesters (including PSY) used the event to stage the infamous concert.

PSY has recently (as of a couple minutes ago) said that he is “forever sorry” for participating in the concert and making the statements he made. His apology, released through his publicist, and presented here in full, reads:

“As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world.”
“The song in question — from eight years ago — was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.”

“I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months — including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them — and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it’s important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”

PSY was scheduled to take part in an upcoming Christmas concert attended by President Barack Obama, but now the backpedaling singer’s continued participation is in question, as is his legacy. How the American public (who has made PSY a considerable chunk of the roughly $8 million he’s earned for “Gangnam Style” so far) will take to the just-breaking news is still to be determined. So far though, on reporting websites, the public’s reaction seems largely to be one of understanding and level-headedness. I guess people just really, really love that fucking song.

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