[Letters] Taking the fun out of ‘Gangnam Style’ partyI used to live under the same roof as Psy. When I was serving my military duty, I often saw him in the cafeteria. One day, I was standing behind him in the line, and I plucked up the courage to start a conversation. “I am your fan,” I said. He smiled and said, “I am a fan of Girls’ Generation.” In the military, he was Sgt. First Class Park Jae-sang, not global star Psy.
He was a cheerful man. He knew how to entertain people and maintained delightful energy even during his service. In the structured and rigid military life based on hierarchy and rules, he would never give up on his signature style. He used to clean his food tray in rhythm, and now he is dancing the addictive “invisible horse dance.” He has been preparing for a festival, and it has just begun.
However, there are always party poopers. Some media reported that Psy is not popular in Japan, citing that some Japanese believe the Billboard ranking was manipulated by Koreans. The media unnecessarily planted a seed of hatred in the festivity by provoking nationalism. Of course, it is regrettable that “Gangnam Style” is not so popular in Japan. But it is up to the Japanese to decide whether they would join the horse dance. The worldwide festivity of “Gangnam Style” is not likely to be ruined just because the Japanese have not joined in.
And some ruin the fun by applying overly serious interpretation of Psy’s success. The minister of culture, sports and tourism said that Psy’s music displays Korean characteristics, and the success is a proof of K-pop’s status. I watched the music video a number of times, but except for the tour bus and the duck boat, I could not find any distinctively Korean elements. “Gangnam Style” certainly spread K-pop around the world, but Psy’s music is actually different from the K-pop songs that have been exported abroad so far. The over-analyzing interpretations are awkward and irreverent.
As the mastermind behind this worldwide phenomenon, Psy did what he does best - being Psy. A business tycoon recently said that he would invest tens of billions of won to nurture musicians like Psy. However, Psy has not been produced by large capital. What makes him successful was the freedom that let him enjoy as he wish. Some companies require employees to practice the horse dance to make the corporate culture cheerful. If the business executives want to find free-spirited talents like Psy, they’d better change the rigid corporate culture first.
Let’s step aside from excessive patriotism, overly serious interpretation and economic calculation. When Psy returned to Korea, he requested to be called an “international musician” rather than a “world star.” Regardless of the Billboard ranking, he thanked the fans with a free concert at Seoul Plaza. He has not changed one bit from the days we served in the military. Despite the tremendous success, he is not boastful and still has not grown up. Maybe, he is waiting for us to change. It doesn’t matter if “Gangnam Style” tops the Billboard chart or not. We deserve to enjoy ourselves.
* by Jang Hyeok-jin a senior at Korea University