Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy, South Korea rises

A few months ago, portly 34-year-old rapper, Psy, short for Psycho, a —“because I’m crazy about music, stage performance and show,” he says—was relatively unknown outside of his native South Korea. Now, thanks to his infectious song and video with its over the top dancing, pelvic thrusting, lavish outfits, and intense set design,  “Gangnam Style” which mocks materialism in Seoul, Psy (real name Park Jae-sang) is breaking YouTube records (400 Million views) and has signed with Scooter Braun, a.k.a. the guy who made Justin Bieber famous. “Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy” say Psy and it seems the whole world is taking note.
While its true that he could possibly be a one hit wonder, alternatively, Psy’s success is the latest triumph for what has become known as the Hallyu, or “Korean Wave” in the west.




Psy, brought central Seoul to a standstill last week as he gave a free concert for 80,000 adoring fans, including two renditions of his global hit “Gangnam Style”. The municipal authorities willingly allowed the concert to take place outside the city hall, and blocked traffic in the surrounding streets: an unusual gesture that reflects the delight of South Korean public officials at the international success of the musician. The origins of the song and the title, are associated with an upscale, lavish lifestyle as lived by the trendsetters of the Seoul’s Gangnam district. To say you are doing it “Gangnam Style” is to be equated to the American colloquial phrase “party like a rockstar.” Thanks to its catchy beat and hook repeating the phrase, “Oppa Gangnam style” it has spent weeks at the top of Korean charts (unheard of in Korean pop music who’s top charts usually change weekly), is Number 1 in The UK and Number 2 in The US, although that is possible set to change this week especially since Psy took to social media to send out this heartfelt plea,
“Listen up EVERYBODY!! Help me out to get #NO1 at Billboard!! Buy #GangnamStyle @itunes and Request it at the radio!!” he tweeted on his official Twitter account a few days ago.


Psy with Britney Spears and Ellen on the Ellen DeGeneres Show


“Gangnam Style” might be South Korea’s biggest musical export, however it does not stand alone. Psy’s hit is a part of the Hallyu, or “Korean Wave”. Girls’ Generation, a nine-member “K-pop” group, has also made inroads in the US with appearances at Madison Square Garden and on David Letterman’s Tonight show.

Girl’s Generation


In other areas of the arts, South Korean culture is gaining a Western audience too.
Pieta, the 18th feature written and directed by Kim Ki-duk, depicts the mysterious relationship between a brutal man who works for loan sharks and a middle-aged woman who claims that she is his mother, mixing Christian symbolism and highly sexual content.



It made its world premiere in the competition line-up of the 69th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Golden Lion becoming the first Korean film to win the top prize at one of the three major international film festivals — Venice, Cannes and Berlin. Meanwhile, while Shin Kyung-sook’s novel “Please Look After Mother” became a global bestseller this year.

Please Look After Mom


Jang Te-you, a producer of some of the most popular TV shows, attributes their popularity in other Asian countries to their mixing of conservative family values with depictions of sophisticated fashion and urban living – a blend well suited to new markets like Russia and South America, he says. But some argue that broader social and economic problems are holding back the country’s creative industries. In a society where academic success is exceptionally highly prized with some 80 per cent of young people go to university, this is “a waste of time” for creative talents who miss an opportunity to develop their skills, according to Kim Ki-duk, director of Pieta.

A recent article in The Financial Times states,
“As foreigners pay more attention to the singers, slowly they develop a liking for Korea… and if they like Korea, they will buy more Korean things. This is what we’re trying to promote,”


Psy on the Today show


Gangnam Style Cover

Sunday, October 07, 2012 · Categories: Film and Television, Social Media & Networking , Music and Entertainment, Fashion, Menswear, Marketing and Advertising
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