My ten year-old can already tell you that one of my life’s newer objectives is to die an old man without having heard “Kangnam Style” even once. Pop culture has never been my thing, but I sure did get tired of all the forced Kangnam-Style allusions and cliches in just about everything written about Korea during Psy’s 15 minutes. Anyway, if you’re wondering whether I’m even a little bit surprised that Psy once sang, “Kill those fucking Yankees …. Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law, and fathers …. Kill them all slowly and painfully,” well, no, I’m not surprised. Not even a little. In fact, I’m sure there was a whole mob cheering those applause lines when he sang them. Some of the rhetoric in South Korea in those days would have made Hamas blush. It also enjoyed a significant amount of encouragement from — and exploitation by — South Korea’s ruling party. If you doubt me there, then you haven’t read that last link.
You know who made a lot of good points about this? Someone I disagree with more often than not, The Metropolitician. I agree with him that Psy’s apology was certainly insincere, and the fact that Psy’s “art” has as much to do with Korean culture as a Samsung knockoff. (I allow that Psy may have been just one more ambitious person who exploited the popularity of anti-Americanism for his own selfish reasons, but that excuses nothing.) Having served as a soldier in Korea at the time when Psy was spewing his hate, I don’t deny my feelings of satisfaction that Psy, unlike me, was capable of making millions of Americans aware of the depth of many South Koreans’ hate. I worry that he may also make South Korea as a whole infamous for hate. Like many other things in life, including South Koreans’ own views of America and its soldiers, this would be unfair. Psy’s promoters must be awfully thankful that their client shares a peninsula with an even more repulsive individual, who provided a timely distraction.