September 21, 2012

"Gangnam Style"

Here's the world's most popular music video, with 233,000,000 views on Youtube:
Being an old coot, I'm out of touch with kids these days and what they think is cool. But, still ...

A tubby, not too young South Korean singer (?) named Psy parodies (?) the lifestyle of the expensive Beverly Hills-like Gangnam district of Seoul, set to a generic beat while dancing not terribly well in a silly fashion, with guest appearances by Korean celebrities I've never heard of.

There are always a lot of jokes out there, so why do people around the world enjoy getting this joke so much at this point in time?

I'm guessing that people are, in some sense, paying tribute to South Korea's long emerging national self-confidence. The South Koreans make good cars, they make good phones, their popular culture is livelier and more masculine than Japan's at present, and so forth. So, this one piece of flotsam gets picked up by a big national wave and is hurled forward. In contrast, you are less likely to see an international pop phenomenon emerge from countries that are mostly treading water, like, say, the Philippines. 

204 comments:

1 – 200 of 204   Newer›   Newest»
Matt Parrott said...

Meh. The music video is simply silly, fun, and catchy. I don't believe there's any geopolitical relevance.

If I were a Black rap star with serious street cred, I would have the business sense to pair up with these East Asian pop sensations for a cameo.

The brothers would find it rightfully hysterical, the Asian pop stars would bathe in the reflected glory of genuine street cred. The checks would clear.

Everybody wins.

Mangan said...

I'm as out of touch as the next guy with stuff like this, but I've loved this video. I really doubt that its 233 million views has much to do with anyone getting a joke, or enjoying parodies, or even because they like S. Korea's culture. It's mostly just a crazy, very upbeat video with a wildly catchy tune. One person I sent the video to replied, "I'll never be depressed again!"

Anonymous said...

And I thought the Macaroni--or Macarena was it?--was bad.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Korea has the worst national brand in the world.

What first pops into your mind when you hear 'Japan'? Kurosawa, Ozu, Sumo, samurai sword and ninja, Mishima, Godzilla, and, if you're really cool, Bubblegum Crisis.

What first pops into your mind when you hear 'China'? Ancient history, Great Wall, great food(except for dog chowder), Taoism, I Ching, Zhang Yimou, Gong Li, etc.

What first pops into your mind when you hear 'India'? Mysticism, Hinduism, birthplace of Buddha, interesting architecture, Ravi Shankar and great music, Gandhi, etc. There are lots of bad things, but lots of cool things.

Even Vietnam isn't bad. Ho Chi Minh was no stud but he looked like a wise confucian yoda warrior. And Vietnamese beat the Americans. Wow. So, we gotta give them some respect.

Philippines is a silly place but many American guys think Filipino chicks are hot. So they have that.

But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'? Ugly mass murderer Kim Jong Il and his fatass son. Reverend Moon the loon. Spanky Moon the UN dullard. Stinky Kim Chi. Dog beating and eating. And just when things couldn't get any worse, gangnam style crap rap. And Koreans have the silliest names. Stuff like Bum Suk Dong. Kum Suk Kim.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, Choi Sung Kim of V-tech.

Tertius Lydgate said...

Their facial features reveal a surfeit of testosterone

Anonymous said...

I think the 'appeal' of this is twofold and rather paradoxical.

1. It fits the stereotype of Asian male as super dork, dweeb, loser, and pathetic ding-a-ling. I mean he aint impressing anyone as a stud.

At the same time...

2. As with Jeremy Lin phenomenon, this piece of silliness makes us pretend that, 'Asian guys can be cool and badass too'. Thus, we can feel 'progressive' and 'inclusive'.

So, it works as both racial stereotype and as racial counter-stereotype.
We see and hear as Asian dork acting like a Asian stud. We can take him as one or the other or both.

Anonymous said...

"But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'?"

My Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, which is like liquid schwartz.

NY syndrome said...

They have been touting the "K-pop" girl groups in Manhattan magazines for a loooong while now. To say those are just uninspired rehabilitated derivatives of the earlier Shibuya-style girl groups would be an egregious understatement and beside the point, because artistic vision was not driving either one in the first place. It is not that surprising that 2 technologically sophisticated but dwindling nations in a mutually-assured zone of armistice would exhibit similar death rattles

Anonymous said...

gangnamsta paradise.

Norville Rogers said...

what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'?

Hey, don't forget the Va. Tech shooter

Anonymous said...

"but I've loved this video"


Seen a doctor lately? I think you should.

Anonymous said...

I don't think that youtube views tell you much about what "people" are interested in or thinking about.

It may be a good barometer of what teenagers, especially teenage girls, are interested in and thinking about though. The number one watchers of that "Gangham Style" video are 13-17 year old girls.

Kaz said...

He was also on SNL this last weekend. Pretty crazy stuff!

Anonymous said...

In contrast, you are less likely to see an international pop phenomenon emerge from countries that are mostly treading water, like, say, the Philippines.


There was a big youtube hit of prisoners in a Philippine jail re-enacting Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video. Quite good, I must say.

It's a mistake to think that youtube is a reflection of anything useful or worthwhile about the real world. It's the current equivalent of the holodeck on "Star Trek: The Next Generation".

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, I don't have any evidence for this hunch about Saban trying to undermine Obama. "

http://isteve.blogspot.com/2011/10/univision-and-obama.html

FIRST SERIOUS INTERVIEW: PRESSED ON FAILURES BY UNIVISION

http://www.drudgereportarchives.com/data/2012/09/20/20120920_221505.htm

via drudge right now...

Romney Edges Obama In Univision Viewers

http://www.deadline.com/2012/09/mitt-romney-edges-barack-obama-in-univision-viewers-presidential-election/

I don't think the Israeli hawks are really eager for war with Iran, but I think they want the option... and I think they're afraid they won't have the option after 2020.

TGGP said...

That video with the prisoners doing "Thriller" some years back was from the Phillipines.

Orthodox said...

Korea invested billions into its entertainment industry in the late 1990s. By the early 2000s, their production values were on par with Hollywood (excepting special effects), but often with superior plots. They make far better romcoms, with much more daring subject matter (by US standards): My Little Bride, 20-something man in an arranged marriage with a high school girl (and he's also a high school teacher). They made a baseball movie in the tradition of Holllywood (Mr. Gam Superstar). They do raunch too: Wet Dream 2, Sex is Zero.

Korea soap operas and music dominate Asian culture. Aside from the racial/cultural similarities, I suspect that the US has left a big cultural gap in the wake of its "progress": the video below might be 30 years out of date for the US, but most of the world still prefers a little innocence in its teenage culture.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGbwL8kSpEk

This all raises the question: does investing billions in entertainment make it better? It definitely helps to collaborate with Hollywood and learn all their techniques, but at the end of the day their still needs to be something underneath. One thing that Korea absolutely dominates is the "cute" culture. I can't think of any other nation that has so perfected being cute. Japan tries, but tries too hard.

Anonymous said...

I guess better psy than psycho.

Kylie said...

I like it.

I am a huge fan of South Korean movies. Crime dramas, family dramas, comedies, ghost stories--they do every genre you can think of well. Even their stuff that you can tell is meant to be strictly commercial is done with a lot of brio. They really understand movies and how to make them.

Recommendations off the top of my head:

-Poetry
-Epitaph
-Going By The Book
-The Chaser
-Moss
-Rainbow Eyes
-Tell Me Something
-Memories of Murder
-Bloody Innocent
-Secret


And one that vaulted instantly into my Top 10 Favorites:
The Crescent Moon

gumm style said...

"My Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, which is like liquid schwartz."

Samsung is dead and serves them right too. Apple innovates, Samsung copies. It was about time we took action on these Asian copycats.
But we should also boycott Korean and Chinese stuff cuz they kill dogs.

Anonymous said...

Psy looks a lot like Kim Jong-Un. Maybe this is part of the reason?

Iain said...

The Hitler remake is rather clever: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tILqds7-jg

Hacienda said...

Psy is 34.

He's with a entertainment company called YG. One the "Big Three" pop music producing companies. Along with JYP and SM Entertainment. That's right "SM" Entertainment. SM is the biggest of the three and is the most classical, exacting, formal of the group. Noted for SNSD, Super Junior, Shinee, f(x), BOA. All of whom are huge in Asia. Each idol was trained at an expense of 400k per year for up to 3, 4 years before debuting. Very much of a make to a template style of idol production. You'd think it would make for lousy groups, but it actually produces groups that are superior to pop musicians anywhere else. Like watching gold medal synchronized swimmers who can sing and dance. You can listen to sloppy, alienated late capitalism sex obsessed American youth whining about adolescent issues. Or you can listen to precise, optomistic music. Asians still prefer the later.

YG is considered the most creatively open of the Big Three. It has Big Bang, 2NE1, Tablo (who is reputed to have a 170 IQ and has proven he's attended Stanford). Big Bang members have been in DUI arrests, mysterious car accidents, drug possession entanglements, sex scandals. They also all write their own music and are extremely competitive with each other. Unlike say SM's Super Junior members who seem to believe creativity is as dangerous as a live grenade.

JYP is an altogether different and incredibly intriguing story. But if there's anyone who could be considered the father of Kpop, it would be him. But his native Korean tendency to be possessive of "Koreaness" or the brand of Kpop makes him and associated acts a difficult sell to the US.

Which gets us back to Psy. Psy is not part of the idol factory and is strongly individualistic, relatively speaking. Unlike younger idols who are always performing and seem to be reading a script from their training days when on stage, Psy has moved on from that. It gives him a gravity and spontaneity that resembles a seasoned entertainer anywhere on the globe.
He's part of the Kpop wave that been growing for several years, especially in Asia. But he's removed enough, funky enough, creative enough to be more universal. But is he a one-hit wonder? Or is he just the beginning an ginormous tidal shift in the world? My guess is he's just first of a rising worldwide Asian personality-based pop culture.


















Rob in Windham County said...

I went to Norwich University Military Academy and there was a Korean who was there as a steppingstone to West Point (yes, he got in). He was the most bad assed human being I ever knew. We were hazed pretty bad with endless calisthenics and such, and the Korean dude just laughed at it, laughed at the upperclassmen. He would go to the inspections where they judge a cadet from each dorm and he ALWAYS won. One time the other recruits were planning to gang up on me and give me a "soap party" (I would have fought them) but the Korean was my friend and he got wind of it, and he told them he'd fight every single one of them at the same time, he challenged a dozen guys to fight, and they all backed down. No shit. He was a college wrestler, boxer, martial artist, triathlete. He would have aced SEAL or Ranger training. One of the toughest dudes in the world, and also one of the nicest.

Koreans are awesome and fuck anyone who bashes them.

Matt Strictland said...

Fun video. Its sort of South Korean Falco

Ex Submarine Officer said...

I loved this video as well, not really sure why, usually I'm sort of grossed out by East Asians doing something raplike.

I was actually going to post it to my Facebook page until I noticed it had around 200 million views (then) and I would just be advertising how dorky and out of touch I was by being way behind the curve.

Deeper HBD significance? None. Catchy beat, fun graphics, cute kid, lotsa sexy babes.

As for what I think of Korea? I don't think of Korea.

Anonymous said...

Kylie with a list of Korean movies.

Of them, I only watched "Memories of Murder" and it is VERY GOOD.

D. Silver said...

Okay, Steve, I'm with you: the appeal of the video is inexplicable.

But, as music, K-pop itself is friggin' infectious. Compare it to Top-40 drek originating in the US and you'll find the American product...lacking.

Frank said...

There was an interesting Onion bit a few years ago about different nations that summed up Korea pretty well,"We're #2!". Not as wealthy or competent as Japan, not as big and strong as China. Korea has a long history of being owned by both at one time or another throughout its history, passed around like a cheap whore. Even N. Korea's Juche philosophy is kind of a big,"we can do it too all by ourselves!"

Most Korean guys I've met are pretty insecure and arrogant. Its understandable given this context in their background.

Gangnam style is basically a Korean Chapelle- everyone is laughing at him for playing up to ethnic stereotypes while he believes they are laughing with him.

Anonymous said...

I think it's just because the video is wacky and entertaining and there's a catchy beat.

Harry Baldwin said...

It's refreshing to see a performer having a good time, not taking himself seriously, not glowering and acting pissed off all the time like our black rappers.

Anonymous said...

A better nam than gangnam.

A better nam than gangnam 2.

Ron Woo said...

"
But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'? Ugly mass murderer Kim Jong Il and his fatass son. Reverend Moon the loon. Spanky Moon the UN dullard. Stinky Kim Chi. Dog beating and eating. And just when things couldn't get any worse, gangnam style crap rap. And Koreans have the silliest names. Stuff like Bum Suk Dong. Kum Suk Kim. "

Maybe - just maybe - you're beholden to these associations not because this is an accurate reflection of what Korea and Korean culture is like, but because, like many of the visitors to this site, you're a little sheltered and parochial.

Me personally - I think of the hottest (facially) women in the world, a spectacular (if only partially efficacious) martial art in the form of Tae Kwon Do, the heartiest and meatiest of Asian culinary traditions, and an amazing body of cinema which has only emerged in the past decade or so - covering a whole gamut of genres from Park Chan-wook's epic tragic "Old Boy" to the romantic comedy "My Sassy Girl," to the political thriller "JSA."

South Korea is also one of the most impressive of the East Asian Tigers, and surely proof that Japan's modernization and economic success was not a fluke or exception within the Confucian civilizational sphere. Unlike Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan, South Korea has built a cohort of leading international brands - Hyundai, LG, and Samsung.

Ron Woo said...

"In contrast, you are less likely to see an international pop phenomenon emerge from countries that are mostly treading water, like, say, the Philippines. "

I actually feel that given sufficient funding and exposure, the Filipinos are the one group of Asians most likely to produce an international pop phenomenon.

My reason for this should be readily understandable to regular visitors to a HBD website - they possess a greater natural ability for rhythmic popular music than most other ethnic groups - especially in Asia.

If you ever see a live Filipino cover brand, often populated by untrained musicians and singers, you will be blown away by the quality.

Their untutored, natural aptitude for music is just incredible - almost on a par with sub-Saharan blacks.

The list of American musicians of Filipino descent is impressive - at least relative to other Asian ethnic groups - Chad Hugo of the Neptunes, Kirk Hammet of Metallica, Bruno Mars.

Anonymous said...

Put me in the It's Fun and Catchy and Don't Overthink It camp.

Anonymous said...

"So, this one piece of flotsam gets picked up by a big national wave and is hurled forward."

I don't think Psy -- or this music video -- is actually all that popular in Korea, though. Its popularity is more an American thing than a Korean thing.

pat said...

We have come full circle if I have to explain to you that it's all about IQ. South Korea according to Lynn has the highest IQ of any nation.

I cautioned you about your recent fixation with age. Coot indeed.

There's a story (legend) that Gorbachev despaired when he realized that the USSR which had half of the engineers in the world but couldn't produce an automobile that could compete on the world stage. Lousy little South Korea with virtually no natural resources and no history of self government could produce the Hyundai and the Kia. If he had known about Samsung he would have been really depressed.

Every snarky comment about Koreans, I heard several decades ago about the Japanese.

In electronics they talk about "Old S" and "New S". That's Sony and Samsung for those of you who haven't kept up.

BTW I keep hearing that William Devane was told by his father to invest in land - and he did very well. If he did so damn well why is he making these stupid commercials at 75?

Albertosaurus







Anonymous said...

I found out of this video many weeks ago, back when it was passed along on the site Reddit, mainly made up of tech geeks in their 20s.

The song is popular because it's funny, its sound is more in line with current American pop songs (electronic based), and it's a counterpoint to most K-Pop, which is made up of model-like artists propped up producers. Psy is a pudgy Korean guy who looks like Kim Jong Il.

That's all it is. Don't read too much into this.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

The charm of this amusing tune can't be fully appreciated, perhaps, until you've seen it performed by hot young twentysomethings in a club.

Respek.

Anonymous said...

The new mash-up of Gangnam style and Downfall rocks.

josh said...

My students love this. Can't say I get it.

Noumenon said...

Why do people watch that video when they could be watching the sexy Hyuna version?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I watched about 40 seconds of that. I'm sure people in South Korea and Japan think it's awesome stuff. I'm sure most white Americans rightly watch it for the snickering lulz.

Eric said...

I am a huge fan of South Korean movies. Crime dramas, family dramas, comedies, ghost stories--they do every genre you can think of well. Even their stuff that you can tell is meant to be strictly commercial is done with a lot of brio. They really understand movies and how to make them.

Not just movies but television. You won't find anything on US TV that holds a candle to Coffee Prince or What's up, Fox?.

Anonymous said...

"That's all it is. Don't read too much into this."

We are NOT trying to read into the video or the gangnamster. We are trying to understand the phenomenon. Why THIS one went viral. I mean there are tons of silly music videos on youtube, especially buffalaxed Bollywood ones.

So why this one?

Anyway, if something this silly can become a worldwide sensation, now we know how something as ridiculous as 'gay marriage' can become an overnight sensation.

Anonymous said...

Park Chan-wook's epic tragic "Old Boy"

------------

You mean V-tech massacre training film? That sucked donkey di--.

Anonymous said...

"Koreans are awesome and fuck anyone who bashes them."

True. Japan bashed Korea at one time and a lot of Korean comfort women fuc*ed Japanese soldiers.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe - just maybe - you're beholden to these associations not because this is an accurate reflection of what Korea and Korean culture is like, but because, like many of the visitors to this site, you're a little sheltered and parochial."

BS, kid. I aint parochial cuz I've seen movies from all over. And am I wrong that Koreans are horribly cruel to animals?
I can understand Koreans eating dogs if they're starving. Starving people will even resort to cannibalism.
But why do Koreans torture and eat dogs? Just to get hardons for sex. I mean what kind of sick shit is that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MmUbgvhqNTA

Anonymous said...

But I have seen a handful of good Korean movies.

FRIEND is tops. TAKE CARE OF MY CAT is pretty good. I didn't really like POETRY but it was good, I admit.
BRAND NEW LIFE is really good but it was made by a Franco-Korean woman.

http://youtu.be/bKvTyKQERe0

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_tILqds7-jg&feature=player_embedded

It's already been done!

Glaivester said...

Have you seen it performed by ponies?

Anonymous said...

@Rob in Windham County

When I was in the Marines we trained with the ROK Marines during KITP 2001. They are a quality trained force and quite fun to train and party with.

During one lull during training we had a little "bull in the ring" match with ROK's against us. We were told the stories about TKD and how the kicks were invented to kick people off of horses and blah, blah blah oriental mysticism.

One of our guys, about 6' 200 went against a ROK Marine. ROK Marine throws impressive fast kick American Marine takes kick on shoulder shrugs it off and picks up ROK and body slams him. All the Koreans go "Ohhhhhhh". He tapped.

90% of the fights went that way. Americans are so much more bigger than the Koreans but bless their little fighting spirit. It was fun to watch trained fighters go at it.

My oriental mysticism died that day and in its place was a point of pride in who I was.

I've no doubt your buddy was tough, but you seem a little caught up in the myth of it all.

Anonymous said...

http://rt.com/news/german-embassy-sudan-protesters-142/

Sheeeeet.

Anonymous said...

The video was quite funny. For the sake of the Korean people I hope that the humor was intentional. The music was awful. Why would anyone call it catchy?

A major trait I associate with Koreans is fierceness - extreme, hardcore, psychotic dedication to whatever they're doing. In this particular sort of fierceness the Japanese seem to be second, the Chinese third and everyone else far, far behind.

Ed said...

Oh, I'm sure Steve gets this.

Anonymous said...

Whose the PR guy? Whose the agent? Getting onto SNL means that someone from Hollywood picked him up.

Sorry. Don't look deeper than the PR people.

I'm wondering if the asian women who marry white men are the 'darkest' asian women, and the asian women who already look white don't marry the white men because there is no need?

Anonymous said...

Also, I saw a bunch of asian kids watching this the other day. So maybe we've reached an immigration level where Asians in America look to this stuff as a bridge back to their own culture and identity.

Anonymous said...

It's a string of two dozen visual gags, all different, mostly successful, that are unhindered by barriers of language and culture. Plus, song catchy and girls pretty, which also transcends culture. The planet collectively went "here's the best thing I've seen this week".

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/21/us/california-debt-higher-than-earlier-estimates.html?ref=us&_r=0

uh oh.

Kylie said...

"It's refreshing to see a performer having a good time, not taking himself seriously, not glowering and acting pissed off all the time like our black rappers."

Our black rappers?

Yours, maybe. Not mine.

bluto said...

Living in Annandale, VA, I've developed a healthy appreciation for Korean food, it's quite good.

beowulf said...

"But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'? "

Riot porn!
"in most countries, the job of the riot police is to stop riots. In South Korea, in contrast, the job of the riot police is to confront the rioters and Do Battle."
http://isteve.blogspot.com/2009/05/south-korea-branding-itself.html

"He was also on SNL this last weekend. Pretty crazy stuff!"

That's funny, as I was watching this I was thinking it begs for a shot for shot Andy Samberg remake. :o)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILvkEHQPHHg




Anonymous said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/21/germany-birthrate-low-falling?fb=optOut

Anonymous said...

Personally, yes, I do have greater sympathy than I otherwise would have for a silly Youtube video because it surfs the wave of South Korea's truly admirable rise. The energy and discipline behind all their recent output is the kind of phenomenon that has made other nations go mad with militaristic ambitions (see Japan's rapid modernization in the early 20th century and what became of it). As long as they stick to cell phones, movies, and LPGA players...

Harry Baldwin said...

Why THIS one went viral. I mean there are tons of silly music videos on youtube, especially buffalaxed Bollywood ones.

Isn't that like asking "Why 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and not some other POS fan-fic?" Sometimes someone wins the Powerball.

BTW I keep hearing that William Devane was told by his father to invest in land - and he did very well. If he did so damn well why is he making these stupid commercials at 75?

Yes, and why is he shown putting his gold in a wall safe in his house and then closing a hinged painting over it? Is his house on one of those maps of the Hollywood stars? (Maybe not, he's not really a star.) He's going to have some people dropping over and looking for that painting, come TEOTWAWKI.

Anonymous said...

hhhmmmm... I actually thought the opposite; people are drawn to the way GS celebrates alot of the "uncool" things that stand out about Koreans; their bony faces, their bad haircuts, their funny-sounding gutteral language...

Korean communities tend to be fairly shut off and Korean culture is still a mystery to alot of people. My guess is that Americans are very curious about Korea, and want to learn more about the Korean experience FROM A KOREAN PERSPECTIVE. But they want it to be honest, and match their own observations, which is why LG commercials etc. just haven't had the same appeal. They doesn't answer those burning questions we've secretly wanted to ask.

This would explain why Americans are drawn so much more to recent Korean cinema, than they are to synthetic, Americanized "K-pop," with its shockingly risque music videos featuring weird-looking over-sexualized women, who don't even remotely resemble the preppy, medium-height, church-going Korean girls that they know in real life.

Auntie Analogue said...

If that video's number is what nowadays passes for a "catchy tune," then I'm immensely grateful that I grew up while Sinatra was still in fine voice. There is nothing tuneful, nothing melodic about that that video number.

Anonymous said...

In my experience, Koreans are arrogant, conceited, condescending, rude, aggressive, discourteous, unfriendly, and stuck-up.

On the bright side, Korean women tend to have bigger tits than other Asian women, but that's usually offset by most or all of the above, plus a giant moon-face.

Also, Koreans are engaged in a peaceful takeover of the Philippines. Both America and the Philippines will undoubtedly live to regret it.

This song and video are unbelievably stupid and non-catchy, and I don't believe that the youtube stats are valid. I bet its being hacked by a small group of Koreans, perhaps paid by the Korean record company.

Anonymous said...

"The energy and discipline behind all their recent output"

Like what? highest suicide rate? lowest birthrate? dog killing rate? Copying Apple rate?

Anonymous said...

If Korea is so great and Koreans are so creative and wonderful, why don't Koreans stay in Korea instead of immigrating to America? By coming to America, they are admitting that Korea sucks in comparison to America, and they are also admitting that they lack the ability to improve Korea to match American standards (even though American standards are in free-fall, thanks in large part to Korean and other immigrants).

Unknown said...

Samsung is dead and serves them right too. Apple innovates, Samsung copies. It was about time we took action on these Asian copycats.
But we should also boycott Korean and Chinese stuff cuz they kill dogs.


Actually I've found their products to be more innovative and just plain better than Apple's, see Galaxy note.

Reading up on how the Jury decided that case proves that multi-billion patent cases can't be handed off to whatever retards were too dumb to figure out a way off jury duty that day(Steve has written about this).

But I wouldn't worry about Samsung, patent cases are going their way in Europe and they have Apple by the balls over LTE patents(in concert with Google).

Anonymous said...


If I were a Black rap star with serious street cred, I would have the business sense to pair up with these East Asian pop sensations for a cameo.

The brothers would find it rightfully hysterical, the Asian pop stars would bathe in the reflected glory of genuine street cred. The checks would clear.

Everybody wins.



That's debatable. I'm not sure Ludacris pairing up with Justin Bieber helped either of their reputations.

Ray Sawhill said...

Love the vid too. I like its whackiness, confidence, glitz, catchiness and pop surrealism ... It's witty and infectious in a digital-era/psychedelia sort of way. The girls are superfine too.

I haven't watched too many Korean movies, but my young filmbuff friends watch them all the time. "Oldboy" and "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance" (which I have watched) are both hot stuff. Didn't love them but they're awfully intense and impressive. My bet is that younger American filmmakers study them (and rip them off) all the time.

Anonymous said...

But, as music, K-pop itself is friggin' infectious. Compare it to Top-40 drek originating in the US and you'll find the American product...lacking.


Well, the genre that the beat for "Gangnam Style" falls into is basically "Dutch house" (with the high-pitched lead synth that glides a bit between the notes). Europe has definitely taken the lead over the US in terms of pop music innovation and it's notable that this Korean success is imitating a European and not American form.

Anonymous said...

In contrast, you are less likely to see an international pop phenomenon emerge from countries that are mostly treading water, like, say, the Philippines.


The Philippines and Indonesia are loaded with talented guitar players. I'm kind of surprised we haven't seen a major pop cultural success come out of either of these two countries, even as a one-off novelty. But then guitar-based music seems to have been essentially stagnant for over a decade even in the US and Europe.

Anonymous said...

r/K selection

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R/K_selection_theory

The poison culture out of New York and Hollywood promotes r-type behavior because the more people who succumb and reverse the millenia of evolution it took to get to K-type behavior the bigger the competitive advanatge for those who don't succumb.

As humans were all r-type at one point and those drives are still there but suppressed (and repressed) by the more K-type genes the temptation to succumb is quite strong making it easy for the poison culture to seep into the cracks.

Anonymous said...

"But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'?"

Intelligent movies.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Israeli hawks are really eager for war with Iran, but I think they want the option... and I think they're afraid they won't have the option after 2020.

I doubt the Israelis want war with anyone. They just want to take out the Iranian nuclear program, just as they did the Iraqi one in the 80's. I'm sure Obama has no objection to the Israelis doing so, but after the elections, just in case the Iranians react by doing something really nutty, which might have unpredictable effects on the polls.

Ron Woo said...

"
BS, kid. I aint parochial cuz I've seen movies from all over. And am I wrong that Koreans are horribly cruel to animals?
I can understand Koreans eating dogs if they're starving. Starving people will even resort to cannibalism.
But why do Koreans torture and eat dogs? Just to get hardons for sex. I mean what kind of sick shit is that? "

I'd say one of the chief hallmarks of mindless parochialism is say, taking the most egregious instance of another nation's behavior and touting it as their most definitive trait.

Other might just call it stupid, however.

Anonymous said...

I actually feel that given sufficient funding and exposure, the Filipinos are the one group of Asians most likely to produce an international pop phenomenon.

Arnel Pineda replaced Steve Perry as lead singer for Journey. Pineda's singing voice is uncanny - an almost exact copy of Perry's voice.

FF said...

My Kioti tractor sucks-don't buy one.

DaveinHackensack said...

"The Philippines and Indonesia are loaded with talented guitar players."

Sure, and Filipino singers and musicians are common in places like Dubai, but we haven't seen any Filipino act have the cultural impact of Gangnam Style here. That goes to Sailer's point.

But to sharpen Sailer's point a tiny bit, I don't think it's just South Korea's economic prowess, but its recent emergence as a first world country that drives this. Indonesia, for example, is doing more than treading water economically -- its economy grew at about 6.5% last year -- but it's still a third world country.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNSMO5Jfw_Q

Now this video should get 200 million hits. One of the most beautiful ballads.

Hail said...

Albertosaurus wrote:
"Lousy little South Korea with virtually no natural resources and no history of self government could produce the Hyundai and the Kia"

(1) They only lacked self-government for about 40 years in the early 20th century. Through the rest of history they had their own governments.

(2) Bluntly: South-Korean success comes very heavily from American largesse, as any honest appraisal would find. Cumulative trillions in aid money, plus the USA providing a wide-open market (to a pivotal anti-communist ally) for products that they copied from us.

(3) Everyone knows Koreans are competent, when they know exactly what they should do. Complex situations and unforseen problems often paralyze them into inaction, though. They are a society of followers -- which is in some ways a good thing. Their personal ability to independently plan and organize is often profoundly inept, and inefficient. Absent American largesse (direct aid, military aid, and the wide-open market we provided), there would be no Hyundai or Kia.

Anonymous said...

The best part of this latest pop bubble is the number of funny parodies it spawned. Some of them go into millions of views, too.

Wes Maven said...

Koreas in a nutshell. "Dueling Koreas."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcAZ6Ts52U8

Anonymous said...

http://www.the-american-interest.com/article.cfm?piece=1300

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows Koreans are competent, when they know exactly what they should do. Complex situations and unforseen problems often paralyze them into inaction, though. They are a society of followers -- which is in some ways a good thing. Their personal ability to independently plan and organize is often profoundly inept, and inefficient. Absent American largesse (direct aid, military aid, and the wide-open market we provided), there would be no Hyundai or Kia.

Meanwhile a society of leaders (I'm assuming you're referring to white northern Europeans) like the UK can't keep Vauxhall, Jaguar, Leyland or Bentley afloat? If this is what a society of leaders looks like, maybe you've got a definition of leadership that's similar to the way the Red Queen uses it, i.e. "When I use a word, it means exactly what I mean it to mean, no more and no less."

Anonymous said...

90% of the fights went that way. Americans are so much more bigger than the Koreans but bless their little fighting spirit. It was fun to watch trained fighters go at it.

The outcome is not surprising to anyone familiar with early UFC. Amongst equal athletes and pre-MMA, anyone without takedown defence (i.e. all pre-MMA striking disciplines) is getting taken down. So wrestling and BJJ trump pure striking. Without sub defence, BJJ trumps wrestling. This is basically what happened in the first few UFC events.

Wrestling is very popular in America, so I would expect that even without the American size advantage, pure wrestlers would beat pure TKD exponents. Even then, TKD prioritizes flashiness over effectiveness. If you want to hurt people boxing or Muay Thai is a better use of your time.

Truth said...

"Our black rappers?

Yours, maybe. Not mine."

The night's still young, Kylie.

Truth said...

After watching that video, I'm not sure I'm still heterosexual.

DirkY said...

Steve, here is another hit for your crops rotting in the field file.

http://www.volokh.com/2012/09/21/the-bitter-harvest-of-immigration-restrictions/

¡Libertarians sure do love open borders!

DirkY said...

Also I am devastated that my link to a homoerotic cartoon featuring Mohammad and suggestion that it be spammed on Muslim websites was moderated out. First time in 6 years of commenting!

Now I know how all your crazy anti Semite commenters complaining about "Komment Kontrol" feel. :(

Anonymous said...

"South-Korean success comes very heavily from American largesse"

American largesse applies to half the countries in the world - some ground is more fertile than others.

.
"I doubt the Israelis want war with anyone."

Duh.

Why go to war yourself if you can buy US politicians and get them to send their citizens to war instead.

The weird thing is why the Russians, Chinese, Saudis etc haven't copied the idea.

Anonymous said...

South Korea, an interesting example to all of us.
Lest we forget, until comparatively recently South Korea was pretty low income - right up to the 1980s it was poorer than China is today.
Their cars are now noted for excellence - I remember when they were first introduced to the west that they were catstrophic unreliable failures that dis appeared off the market. The moral is that the Korean engineers persisted, persisted and persisted until they perfected the technology and eventually their cars surpassed anything the west had to offer in terms of quality.
Not wishing to pontificate or moralise, as the late Ray Kroc put it persistance is the key to success (never mind talent or ability)whether on the individual or national level. Third world nations unable to get out of the low income trap should study South Korea.

Anonymous said...

"a homoerotic cartoon featuring Mohammad and suggestion that it be spammed on Muslim websites...your crazy anti Semite commenters"

Is there any particular reason you would want to inflame anti-american feeling in the middle east?

Like maybe get some cheap 9/11 patriotic feeling going on the backs of a few dead ambassadors and marines that might help push a war on Iran?

agnostic said...

South Korea's culture is more masculine and lively than the other Northeast Asian ones in recent times because they are unique in having a rising homicide rate since the mid-1990s:

South Korean culture and rising crime rate

The South Korean students here are kind of like what you'd have expected from the '70s and '80s. The guys wear bright colorful clothes and shoes, longish hair (relative to NE Asians overall), are more physically rambunctious (they punch each other in a friendly way), and are more talkative and sociable in public, all very informal.

Simon in London said...

Dunno if this video says anything about Korea. When a (half-Chinese) friend linked to it on Facebook yesterday there was no mention it was Korean, and I didn't click the link.

I think it's pretty well done and is basically just the random kind of thing that can go viral.

Anonymous said...

One Korean technocultural export that has helped virally spread the video is - professional video gaming.

Korean culture is big among nerds, chiefly because of the pro Starcraft gaming culture of Korea.

/N-E-R_D

Anonymous said...

Now 238 million views, btw.

Anonymous said...

To the Norwich Grad: re your Korean badass friend,
I stumbled across a Wikipedia page describing mass atrocities (many of which I had never heard of) last year and noticed an over representation of one particular nations population. Which nation was it?

Boru

Anonymous said...

"What first pops into your mind when you hear 'India'?"

Open sewers, crime, starvation, crushing poverty, and disease.

Let's just say that the "national brand" of places like Japan, South Korea, and even China suffer less when outsiders actually visit than that of India. A normal Indian city like Calcutta makes even the worst city in the US seem like paradise.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody here speak Korean? Can anybody tell us if the rhymes in the song are clever and witty, or banal and easy?

Also, how hard is it to rhyme in Korean, and is rhyme a major factor in their poetry or not?

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll explain to youse what's so catchy about this video, babies...

There's an old show-biz adage which is expressed in many forms, but my favorite is the eloquent formulation of Kim Gordon, la bass diva del Sonic Youth.

The way she put it was: "People want to pay money to watch other people believe in themselves."

This guy Psy believes in himself. That's what it is. He's a pudgy Asian weirdo who can't rap and can't dance and he doesn't fucking care. He's hilarious, in the good way. That wiggly-butt dance move he does is preposterous, and yet it's HIS, and that's why it's so fabulous, as it were. He made it up (presumably) and he made it work, somehow, against the odds.

My hat goes off to him.

Watch David Byrne's haunting dance with the floor lamp in "Stop Making Sense" some time, and you'll sense the affinity.

Kai Carver said...

thank you Hacienda for your very informative comment. Surely some of the success of this video is not random, but due to the amazing K-Pop machine.

One caveat: I find K-Pop mesmerizing for its production values and cute women but soon boring and annoying because very empty and mechanical. So, superior in some very specific way no doubt, but still pure soul-draining fluff! And every cute dancing girl to me has the faint look of desperation that emanates from a product of an inhuman and macho mass production industry.

For a different example of Korean pop music, Apollo 18 is a (post-hardcore?) rock band I saw live and were really great if you like that kind of thing.

More generally: Korea may still have a bad rep in some quarters, but it's pretty clear to anyone who knows the slightest bit about today's Korea that it's a powerhouse in almost every field. Respect! Others can learn a thing or two from them. Or at least try...

Anonymous said...

"If Korea is so great and Koreans are so creative and wonderful, why don't Koreans stay in Korea instead of immigrating to America?"

Same reason Germans emigrated to America and Brazil.

Anonymous said...

There is an interesting "related" video, TEENS REACT TO GANGNAM STYLE, showing the reactions of a bunch of American teenagers who are seeing the video for the first time. It's actually pretty much what you might expect.

Dad said...

South Korea is becoming the land of the "flower men."

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Cho Won-hyuk stands in front of his bedroom mirror and spreads dollops of yellow-brown makeup over his forehead, nose, chin and cheeks until his skin is flawless. Then he goes to work with a black pencil, highlighting his eyebrows until they're thicker, bolder.

"Having a clean, neat face makes you look sophisticated and creates an image that you can handle yourself well," the 24-year-old college student said. "Your appearance matters, so when I wear makeup on special occasions, it makes me more confident."

Cho's meticulous efforts to paint the perfect face are not unusual in South Korea. This socially conservative, male-dominated country, with a mandatory two-year military conscription for men, has become the male makeup capital of the world.

South Korean men spent $495.5 million on skincare last year, accounting for nearly 21 percent of global sales, according to global market research firm Euromonitor International. That makes it the largest market for men's skincare in the world, even though there are only about 19 million men in South Korea. Amorepacific, South Korea's biggest cosmetics company, estimates the total sales of men's cosmetics in South Korea this year will be more than $885 million.



http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5iGq2YjgcHi9ldt_3FSzSKRZsMi_Q?docId=b196e95abb3c416b8cee4b8a3b9619d2

Anonymous said...

"But what first pops into our mind when we hear 'Korea'?"

My car. Which by the way is both cheaper and more reliable than the American cars that I've had in the past.

106 average IQ for South Korea is a remarkable thing.

peterike said...

The first I'd seen of this was a parody video called "Gandalf Style."

http://youtu.be/M660rjNCH0A

I thought it was mildly humorous, but I had no idea what it was taking off on. Now I know.

I frequently find myself seeing the parody of a "big thing" before seeing the thing itself. Example: first I ever heard that annoying Gotye song was the Star Wars parody version, which I prefer.

Anonymous said...

And so the game begins with white people. I think white people, particularly hbd white people, are threatened by Asians who don't fit the norm of what white people expect of them. And so when this Asian, who is not a math nerd, emerges white people scramble to make sure this phenomenon is defined on their terms.

Ie it is a fluke, Asians are just copying white people, it's popular just because Asians are weird, etc

pat said...

Everyone knows Koreans are competent, when they know exactly what they should do. Complex situations and unforeseen problems often paralyze them into inaction, though. They are a society of followers -- which is in some ways a good thing. Their personal ability to independently plan and organize is often profoundly inept, and inefficient. Absent American largesse (direct aid, military aid, and the wide-open market we provided), there would be no Hyundai or Kia.

This is the real face of racism. No one calls blacks "jungle bunnies" anymore but lots of seemingly intelligent people are comfortable impugning Koreans with crude stereotypes.

We heard all of this before with the Japanese. "Those damn Japs" my father-in-law would say, "they can't really think, they just copy our stuff". Now it's the Koreans. Sure.

In fact Hyundai and Kia came from Mitsubishi. The Koreans bought whole factories. But remember that the USSR did something very similar. They bought complete automobile factories from FIAT. The difference is that every year those Fiats made in Russia got worse until they wouldn't run at all, and Hyundais are probably now better built than the Mitsubishis on which they were originally based.

China and Korea are finally assuming their rightful place in the economic world. Get used to it.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

"crazy anti Semite commenters"

since generalizations are deemed kinda racist and prolish here, go along with anti-scotsirish

Anonymous said...

Dog meat has been consumed in Europe recently and apparently still is in Switzerland:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_meat#Europe

Anonymous said...

All you people and your "Samsung copied Apple" meme.

Samsung didn't get where it is by copying Apple; they got there by copying GE.

Anonymous said...

"The weird thing is why the Russians, Chinese, Saudis etc haven't copied the idea."

We go to war for the Saudis all the time. See Iraq Wars I & II.

Ain't for nothing the Fifth Fleet is in Bahrain.

Anonymous said...

I doubt the Israelis want war with anyone. They just want to take out the Iranian nuclear program, just as they did the Iraqi one in the 80's.


Of course, doing so does/would constitute an act of war.

Perhaps what you meant to say was "I doubt the Israelis want a long drawn out war with anyone, they want a week long war after which Iran cries 'Uncle', loses its nuclear program, and the UN enforces a peace."

But that's the nature of all wars. Nobody who went to war in 1914 or 1939 wanted what happened next.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFIQIpC5_wY

This should get 200 million views.

Anonymous said...

South Korea, an interesting example to all of us.
Lest we forget, until comparatively recently South Korea was pretty low income - right up to the 1980s it was poorer than China is today.
Their cars are now noted for excellence - I remember when they were first introduced to the west that they were catstrophic unreliable failures that dis appeared off the market. The moral is that the Korean engineers persisted, persisted and persisted until they perfected the technology and eventually their cars surpassed anything the west had to offer in terms of quality.




Well, no. A Korean economist named Ha-Joon Chang write a book explaining the roots of South Korea's recent economic rise. It's called "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism". The dopy libertarians should read it, but won't, because being a dopy libertarian means going though life with your head in the sand.

South Korea has been economically successful by listening carefully to the 'free trade gospel' propounded by Western economists, and then doing the exact opposite.

Mr. Anon said...

A korean Jack Oakie look-alike doing a Bo-Jangles dance to european synth-pop dance music

Now I have seen everything.

Martin B said...

"Mangan said...

I'm as out of touch as the next guy with stuff like this, but I've loved this video."

Hey, Dennis, how are you? I hope that life, work, etc. are all going well with you.

Anonymous said...

orientals are just weird

Anonymous said...

. The moral is that the Korean engineers persisted,
the moral is that a determined homogenous peoples will always beat multicultural cesspools - which the west has INTENTIONALLY become - marxists intentionally want the west to fall behind so everyone can be 'equal'

josh said...

A)Re Truth:"After watching that video I'm not sure I am still heterosexual." We've had our doubts for some time now. B) The reason this dumb vidoe is so popular,IMHO,is the lovely Korean girls.THats it. I watched one minute of it,its dumb and boring 'cept for the aforementioned lil ole fillies!This guy is the brother of that Hung guy form American Idol.Move along. C)Israel and war: Imagine controlling an army of extraordinary power and you dont have to pay one red cent for its cost! Imagine,further,that neither you nor any of your fellow countrymen give a rats ass about casualties,NOR do you have to worry about being responsible for the care of the wounded,NOR do you really care if they get "quagmired". Not your problem.Would you be a little trigger happy? Time to realize we have a problem in letting one race get so much influenece? DUH? We need a new ruling class,the one we got now is a disaster. I suggest a Celtic-Germanic alliance built on restoring American values.

Kylie said...

"'Our black rappers?

Yours, maybe. Not mine.'

The night's still young, Kylie."


Yours may be. Mine is not.

Anonymous said...

Korean Americans are taking over West Point.

Kim is now one of the top 3 names at West Point. It was even the most common name in the class that graduated in 2009.

West Point grad directory: http://www.westpointaog.org/page.aspx?pid=4069

Anonymous said...

A Korean economist named Ha-Joon Chang write a book explaining the roots of South Korea's recent economic rise. It's called "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism".
--------------

But if not for good American samarketins, would bad Korean samarkitins have thrived?

Anonymous said...

Btw, since I think like 2/3 of Koreans are Kims, I don't think it means much. Them Kims are probably the total of Koreans in West Pointless.

Anonymous said...

"We go to war for the Saudis all the time. See Iraq Wars I & II."

Not for the Saudis. For Saudi oil.

Hacienda said...

"Korean Americans are taking over West Point. "

WOW! Didn't know that.

But it makes sense. If you look at the gold medal won by Koreans at London they are almost all in the martial-type sports. Archery, Shooting, Taekwondo, even Fencing. Koreans come from a basically military culture, or until very recently revered military leaders. Vastly different from the Chinese and even the Japanese, actually.

If you really want to know about Korea, you should research Yi Sun Shin. He was no joke.

He pretty much single handedly repelled a Japanese (Hideyoshi's) invasion of Korea in the late 1500s that changed the course of world history.

What Moses is to the Jews, Yi is to Koreans.

Anonymous said...

"But remember that the USSR did something very similar. They bought complete automobile factories from FIAT."


But who gave the world Ak-47?

Anonymous said...

Stupid Koreans break international law to steal islands.

Anonymous said...

"If you really want to know about Korea, you should research Yi Sun Shin. He was no joke."

He was a joke. The whole thing about turtle ships beating Japan is so much myth. Just look at the damn thing. It's so poorly designed that one wonders how it could operated at sea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtle_ship

Just look at it. No way that could be used in war except in the childish fantasies of Koreans.
I think some folklore was created after Japanese retreated to make believe that Koreans actually beat the Japanese or something.

Peterike said...

Did Psy invent those dance moves (the horse bit)? Because they are terrific and 80% of what makes this vid memorable.

Anonymous said...

It has the fun characteristics of rap videos (extreme self-confidence and grandiosity) without the sad pro-crime or in/out group political messages. Lame dancing ... which is weird given Korea's position among b-boys.

For a "fun" time, I'd recommend watching Old Boy with the director's commentary on. Plot? Acting? Who cares?! It's all about the SATURATION. Korea gets production.

Anonymous said...

Korean Americans are taking over West Point. "
No. The diversicrats/globalists have taken over west point - they are making sure that white males are a minority. The number one goal of the Annapolis for example, as stated by its president, is diversity - they even take orientals (not just blacks but orientals) with average SATs in the 300s and have a remedial college for them.

there was a whole scandal about it when a prof. blew the whistle.

there is only ONE reason governments have ever replaced the officer corps - when they intend to use the military ON the people and therefore do not want native Americans (native in the Madison Grant sense)

jody said...

"I don't think Psy -- or this music video -- is actually all that popular in Korea, though."

uh...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rX372ZwXOEM

that's pretty normal for the kind of crowd SNSD or the other major korean acts can draw in asia (super junior, 2NE1, kara).

i wouldn't say this stuff is big everywhere, but in asia it's huge. probably the biggest wave of pop music ever over there. and in every country. they do a tour of asia in arenas and stadiums.

SNSD did sell out madison square garden in 1 day the last time they played there, though.

Anonymous said...

But who gave the world Ak-47?

Interestingly, Mr Kalashnikov (the "K" in AK-47) has never received any royalties for his design. Meaning that he's never got even a 0.000000001% of what Steve Jobs was able to harvest out of iPhone.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt_YhSxjshY&feature=related

This is better.

jody said...

"Korean Americans are taking over West Point."

when i went to west point as a recruit, a korean guy lifting weights in the gym was one of the first cadets i saw.

"Btw, since I think like 2/3 of Koreans are Kims, I don't think it means much. Them Kims are probably the total of Koreans in West Pointless."

lol it does seem everyone of them is named kim, park, or lee. according to wikipedia, 50% of all koreans ARE actually named kim, park, or lee. the first korean i ever met, the guy who runs the tang soo do studio in my city, was a kim.

and yeah, considering the state of the US military, i think "West Pointless" is a good name for the place. west point actually takes on foreigners now. as if it were not the united state military academy, responsible for the deadly serious business of training america's military leaders to defend the united states and KILL foreign enemies. but as if it were UCLA or michigan or stanford, admitting foreign nationals as if west point was an international "brand" that aspiring combat officers from hostile foreign nations could add to their resume like it were harvard or oxford.

neverminding the fact that "cadets" from most of these places would absolutely, positively be affirmative action candidates who could not pass the academic or physical requirements...does the US army really think training america's enemies on how to kill us is a good idea? are the afghan cadets over the last 10 years a good idea?

yet that's how the liberals run west point in 2012. not to mention the introduction of the homosexual agenda. schwarzkopf was the last really good guy. by the time of shinseki, who totally sucked, it was all downhill from there. what has happened to the united states?

Dennis Dale said...

God, the responses here. Really guys, you don't have to comment every time the urge strikes. Handle the impulse to sound off like you're supposed to deal with anger--breathe, wait ten minutes and then re-appraise.

I know--I've got countless ill-advised comments out there in the ether. Thank God the written word doesn't matter any more.

I view this just like that Narnia rap, parodying familiar indulgences which we see as effete or too civilized by expressing them through the aggressive masculinity of rap.

As in that parody, there might also be a subversive subtext here ridiculing hip hop's cult of neotenous murder and pillage.
We're not allowed to point out, say, that Snoop Dogg is a juvenile hypocrite with an idiot's understanding of politics, society and human nature (much less point out rappers have conflated art with Big Man Africanism--our rappers are America's own little Big Men) who celebrates the worst in humanity, yet is taken seriously by cowed, respectable whites.

This prohibition on criticism--amounting to official sanction-- makes subversive satire our only defense. I'd like to think (but, alas, don't) that such as the Narnia rap are really an esoteric expression--the cognoscenti who "get it" understand the real target is not the subject (Narnia nerds) but the medium--rap.

I don't know SK cinema, but Kylie should add this to the list: The President's Last Bang

Anonymous said...

"The President's Last Bang"

Horrible. Koreans don't know satire.

Anonymous said...

"I don't think Psy -- or this music video -- is actually all that popular in Korea, though."

I'll bet he is now.

Oppa said...

On the off chance somebody actually reads all the way down through the comments, I'll add a little perspective on this as an American living in Korea.

1. Whoever said they didn't think this is as popular in Korea couldn't be more wrong. It's total media saturation over here -- Psy is on every show, in every commercial, the song is played constantly, everyone knows the dance, and all of the other stars are jumping on the bandwagon with parodies.

2. A significant part of the popularity over here is that the song is actually a bit subversive, it has a bit of social criticism (obviously you need to be Korean or at least very familiar with Korea, so this is mostly irrelevant to its going viral). Not much, mind you, but since this is pretty much unheard of in K-pop, it's a big deal.

Anonymous said...

the ass shot @ 1:38 or so makes the video for me.

Hacienda said...


"He was a joke. The whole thing about turtle ships beating Japan is so much myth."


Then why is Yi held in awe by the Japanese navy?

Admiral Togo:
"It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal."

Prior to the 1905 Battle of Tsushima, Lieutenant Commander Kawada Isao recalled in his memoirs that:
"...naturally we could not help but remind ourselves of Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, the world’s first sea commander, whose superlative personality, strategy, invention, commanding ability, intelligence, and courage were all worthy of our admiration."

Admiral Tetsutaro Sato:
"Undoubtedly, Yi is a supreme naval commander even on the basis of the limited literature of the Seven-Year War...Nelson is far behind Yi in terms of personal character and integrity. Yi was the inventor of the covered warship known as the turtle ship. He was a truly great commander and a master of the naval tactics of three hundred years ago."





Anonymous said...

Being an old coot, I'm out of touch with kids these days
...you think you are steve, I have to read YOUR column to find out about this stuff!

Anonymous said...

"Then why is Yi held in awe by the Japanese navy?"

You mean the navy that was stupid enough to attack Americans?

Hacienda said...

"what has happened to the united states?"

The Tao Te Ching:

"A great military is a disaster, for all the world's people despise it."

- Lao Tze

Hacienda said...

"You mean the navy that was stupid enough to attack Americans?"

Please rephrase.

"A navy that had the great foresight to see America would one day be recolonized by the Planet Earth, ex. America"

Anonymous said...

I don't know SK cinema, but Kylie should add this to the list: The President's Last Bang

Yes, that was a good movie. There were a bunch of good Korean movies that came out in the first decade of the 2000s. They came out of nowhere.

JeremiahJohnbalaya said...

Example: first I ever heard that annoying Gotye song was the Star Wars parody version, which I prefer.Nice. I actually have a "Han Shot First" t-shirt.

I think i got it at the same place I got my "There's no place like 127.0.0.0" welcome mat

Ron Woo said...

Hacienda said:

" Koreans come from a basically military culture, or until very recently revered military leaders. Vastly different from the Chinese and even the Japanese, actually."

Dead wrong - Koreans came from a traditional Confucian-derived aristocratic culture in which members of the nobility enjoyed exclusive right to positions in the state civil service.

The Japanese hail from one of the most martial cultures in human history - in some ways pre-modern Japan, as a feudal warrior society - has more in common with Europe of the high middle ages than its Confucian brethren.

Every culture reveres its successful military leaders - or even failed ones, in the case of the Chinese and the Song Dynasty general Yue Fei. Traditional Chinese culture held an extremely disparaging view of soldiers and warfare, yet people still love the Ming-dynasty novel the Three Kingdoms.

War is just exciting, and great generals are the most important kinds of patriots.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

This board is a microcosm of the attitudes that Westerners (and in particular Americans) hold towards Koreans; they evoke either strongly positive or strongly negative feelings. Contrast that with Western attitudes towards the Japanese, which range from generally positive to indifferent. I think a lot of this has to do with their difference in personalities. The Japanese are very reserved in their public dealings, while the Koreans express their emotions more openly. In Western dealings with Koreans, they've probably noticed that Koreans are not afraid to respond to perceived slights in a very direct manner, and Korean men in particular have a reputation for hot-headedness. This goes back to what an earlier poster mentioned; that many Westerners feel threatened by Asian success. Since the Japanese tend to come across as subservient in their contemporary dealings with Westerners, they are generally viewed favorably. The Koreans with their expressiveness and bluntness, on the other hand, often come across as off-putting, and even threatening to Westerners.

Anonymous said...

Steve, speaking of hits, what is your blog post with the most comments?

Anonymous said...

Admiral Togo:
"It may be proper to compare me with Nelson, but not with Korea’s Yi Sun-sin, for he has no equal."

with Nelson?.... Nelson highly doubtful

Anonymous said...

Nelson is far behind Yi in terms of personal character and integrity.
rot.

Anonymous said...

who gave the world the Ak-47?

The Germans.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StG_44

Carlos R. said...

It's really nothing too complex going on here. As a movie reviewer, Steve can probably attest that there is simply a special place in people's hearts for works that are unintentionally awful or cheesy. Look at Ed Wood. Look at Rebecca Black's 'Friday'. That got 40 million hits, and is simply awful- there is really no other word to describe it. But you look at it because it is so awful, and every time you see it you find another level of truly awful there.

Hacienda said...

Ron Woo:

Dead wrong...

War is just exciting, and great generals are the most important kinds of patriots.

------------------------------------------

Not. Korea's 20th C. history is very much one centered around the military. War, occupation, the dictators, peninsula division, social organization, chaebols. Kill or be killed capitalism.

Even the current educational regime- intense after school grinding, teacher-student regimentation, centralized authority. These have very boot camp flavor to them.

If you know current Japanese, not the ones that tortured China 80 years ago, you know that the Japanese are very different creatures from Koreans or the Japanese of 80 or even 40 years ago. So relax.

Yi is celebrated in Korea as it's No. 1 or 2 hero of all time. 1 or 1a with King Sejong. He's no ordinary generic general hero.



Anonymous said...

Of course, doing so does/would constitute an act of war.

Perhaps what you meant to say was "I doubt the Israelis want a long drawn out war with anyone, they want a week long war after which Iran cries 'Uncle', loses its nuclear program, and the UN enforces a peace."

But that's the nature of all wars. Nobody who went to war in 1914 or 1939 wanted what happened next.


The Iranians aren't capable of having a long war with Israel, given that they don't share a border with it, and are about 1000 miles away. At the peak of its power in the early 80's, before its army began suffering reverses against the Iranians, Iraq was unable to do anything to Israel after Osirak. The only thing Iran can do to Israel is lob missiles at it, and many of these will be intercepted by Israel's anti-missile systems. The main issue is the fear the Obama will sabotage the mission, by leaking real-time intelligence to the Iranians via the media, given that a successful strike depends on deception and complete surprise, since the mission, like Osirak, depends on everything going exactly right.

1914 and 1939 aren't remotely comparable to what Israel is facing with respect to Iran. Iran has one ally, Syria, which is a war zone, and the Assads have pretty much kept their heads down since Yom Kippur in 1973. Under Hezbollah, Lebanon has been known to make menacing noises, but all of its attention is now focused on helping Assad keep the Sunnis down - not an easy task since even when you add the Shiites in Lebanon to the Alawites in Syria, you still end up with a Sunni to Shiite+Alawite ratio of 4 to 1.

Anonymous said...

The Germans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/StG_44


Perhaps it's a good idea to read the Wikipedia articles you link to: "The AK-47 used a similar-sized intermediate round and followed the design concept, but was mechanically very different.

AK-47 is popular not because of its looks but because it's dirt cheap and extremely reliable.



Anonymous said...

About West Point and those Kims.

Koreans are 0.5% of the country. Kims are a fraction of Koreans. About 1 in 5 Koreans.

A thousand will graduate from West Point every year.

That shows crazy levels of over-rep at West Point.

Anonymous said...

"A Korean economist named Ha-Joon Chang write a book explaining the roots of South Korea's recent economic rise. It's called "Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism".

When Britain invented "free trade" the British had a monopoly of competitive advantage because they'd just invented everything.

"Free trade" in that context is not the opposite of mercantilism as is claimed. It's the same thing but in the reverse direction i.e. you're trying to force people to buy your stuff because you have the advantage rather than trying to put up trade barriers because you don't.

It was as entirely in keeping with national interest as mercantilism is.

Two sides of the same coin.

The version of "free trade" promoted by the current ruling class has nothing to do with the national interest and everything to do with the mass transfer of accumulated wealth to the current ruling class.

.
"We go to war for the Saudis all the time. See Iraq Wars I & II."

One of the things about having total control of the media is the propaganda starts to de-evolve through the lack of Darwinian pressure.

Anonymous said...

"A thousand will graduate from West Point every year. That shows crazy levels of over-rep at West Point."

Similar to "Mac" names at Sandhurst and i'd expect probably for similar reason - more recently barbarian and more hill tribey (on average) than the Chinese?

Anonymous said...

"Similar to "Mac" names at Sandhurst"

And probably at West Point also.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this will finally kill rap. If some tubby Korean can yap and shake his ass and get 250 million viewers, how cool can rap be anymore?

Rap jumped the shark.

Anonymous said...

From gangsta to gangnam. End of rap.

Anonymous said...

Been youtubing for Kor folk music.

These are kinda interesting.

http://youtu.be/SP7HsumzAUU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gTPM2XIqDe0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2VoE4tPgbw&feature=related

Kylie said...

"AK-47 is popular not because of its looks but because it's dirt cheap and extremely reliable."

Which is to say it's supremely functional.

And a hell of a lot of fun to shoot.

Kylie said...

"I don't know SK cinema, but Kylie should add this to the list: The President's Last Bang."

Haven't seen it, I added it to my Netflix Queue. Thanks, Dennis.

Anonymous said...

with Nelson?.... Nelson highly doubtful

Togo was the guy who defeated the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tsushima. Wikipedia on Togo:

Marshal-General of the Navy Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō, OM, GCVO ((東郷 平八郎, 27 January 1848 – 30 May 1934), was a marshal-general (Fleet Admiral) in the Imperial Japanese Navy and one of Japan's greatest naval heroes. He was termed by Western journalists as "the Nelson of the East", after Horatio Nelson, the British admiral who defeated the French and Spanish at Trafalgar.

Wikipedia has commentary from that era:

It was fought on May 27–28, 1905 (May 14–15 in the Julian calendar then in use in Russia) in the Tsushima Strait between Korea and southern Japan. In this battle the Japanese fleet under Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō destroyed two-thirds of the Russian fleet, under Admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky, which had traveled over 18,000 nautical miles (33,000 km) to reach the Far East. In London in 1906, Sir George Sydenham Clarke wrote, "The battle of Tsu-shima is by far the greatest and the most important naval event since Trafalgar";[4] decades later, historian Edmund Morris maintained that it remained the greatest naval battle since Trafalgar.[5]

Nelson was certainly a great naval strategist, and Togo, who was a bit of a blowhard, suggested that he was literally the living incarnation of Nelson. And yet he stopped short of comparing himself to the Korean Admiral Yi, which I found curious, until I looked up Yi's record. The man was apparently responsible for sinking over 100 Japanese capital ships in 4 separate battles without a single loss to his fleet, although he did lose men killed in action. If true, that record may be unequaled in the annals of naval history in a battle between two navies that, on paper, were roughly evenly-matched.

Anonymous said...

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/08/gangnam-style-dissected-the-subversive-message-within-south-koreas-music-video-sensation/261462/

Anonymous said...

General remarks about South Korea.

They are the most successful country of the last 50 years. (That makes them a model for the third world.)

They are a non-conservative country that keeps illegitimacy among the lowest, preserving the social fabric. (That makes them a model for the first world.)

They still have their flaws. The people are workaholics and studyholics. If they just chilled more it probably wouldn't hurt competitiveness of the country too much.

DanJ said...

Don't sweat it. The clip is hilarious, with a catchy tune and lots of pretty young people dancing around. Not too serious, either.

For an even better video check out this one, where Egyptian pop singer Hisham Abbas goes Bollywood. Irresistable, wholesome fun and dance:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMGp9Jqs5Rs&feature=related

Anonymous said...

thanks steve, now i have this stupid @#$34 song in my head and have watched the damn thing 10 times....

Anonymous said...

When Britain invented "free trade" the British had a monopoly of competitive advantage because they'd just invented everything.


No, their real advantage was that they'd conquered large parts of the world. These parts of the world were then forced to send raw materials to Britain - spices were more valuable than gold at the time - and to purchase British finished goods.

If America were to engage in British style "free trade" it would take over the Middle East, size all the oil wells, and sell the oil to the Europeans. We'd also require our conquered subjects in Egypt and Iraq to buy cars, tv's, cd players, clothes, etc from us and not from anybody else. That was what British free trade looked like.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't say Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines are merely 'treading water'. I'd say the "Asian Century" is really a return back to the norm; Asia being the economic center of the world, which it was for most of recorded history.

Badger PUndit said...

I haven't had time to read the comments on this post, so forgive me if someone has already pointed to it, but a long post on The Blaze by Jonathan Seidl lays out the very specific cultural meaning of the video within South Korea (of course, to those not within that culture, it's mostly just an entertaining video). Here's the link:

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/what-the-heck-is-this-gangnam-style-video-craze-youre-hearing-about-we-explain/

His takeaway -- last paragraph:

"'PSY does something in his video that few other artists, Korean or otherwise, do: He parodies the wealthiest, most powerful neighborhood in South Korea,' writes Sukjong Hong, creative nonfiction fellow at Open City, an online magazine."

Anonymous said...

http://rt.com/news/pakistan-prophet-protest-killed-633/

If there's any justice in the world, people should be rioting over gangnam video. That is a bigger affront to human decency that the anti-Muslim video.

Anonymous said...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetsuya_Komuro

Japan's one-man hit machine of the 90s.

"To date all in all records produced by him have sold more than 70 million in Japan alone."

Anonymous said...

http://www.cjas.org/~leng/komuropa.htm

Komura machine. Japanese originality or imitation?

Anonymous said...

Korea and K-Pop is the new Mo-Town. Btw, you missed that Korea is an opera powerhouse, for example Sumi Jo.

Marc B said...

It's all about the dance, the kids are going nuts over the "Gangham Style" dance. The catchy song with the dancer in humorous situations is the icing on the cake. That's one of the most clever and well-crafted music videos I've ever scene, with tight cuts of PSY in a variety of ridiculous situations, all while being as cool as a cucumber. I am reminded of elements Dadaism and Andy Samberg's 2007 masterpiece, "Hot Rod." But it's mostly a summer jam along the lines of the feelgood hit of last summer, LMFAO's "Party Rock."

The economy of South Korea is actually going through an economic downturn, and this video was created to help lift the spirits of his people, hoping to direct them to a mindset of prosperity. Gangham is the South Korean Beverly Hills.

Anonymous said...

"I'd say the "Asian Century" is really a return back to the norm."

There never was an Asian century. There was an Asian millennium, but Chinese mostly minded their own business(when not being beaten by Mongols), Japanese shut out the entire world, and etc.

ATBOTL said...

No one outside of Asian cares about this.

The high hit count is due to the Asian hive mind at work, not world wide popularity.

Anonymous said...

"Korea and K-Pop is the new Mo-Town."

Rotfl.

One thing for sure, liberal politics went from motown to homotown.

Anonymous said...

Detroit now be hotown.

Anonymous said...

"The high hit count is due to the Asian hive mind at work, not world wide popularity."

I hope this is true. But I see clowns all over the world doing this shit on youboob.

Anonymous said...

"Korea and K-Pop is the new Mo-Town."

Kotown?

Marvin Gaye is rolling in his grave.

Anonymous said...

Cady Groves' CD album LIFE OF A PIRATE is really something special.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrsUnFl0zVs

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VqRlFy2PhFE

Terrific Japanese song from the 70s.

Anonymous said...

japanese folk rock 70s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1FFl2NI0EXg

Anonymous said...

japan's dylan of 70s?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZ-Mvgb0Aqc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryutpbPwrz4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAZQvHW1ewQ&feature=fvsr

DanJ said...

"Yi is celebrated in Korea as it's No. 1 or 2 hero of all time. 1 or 1a with King Sejong. He's no ordinary generic general hero."

So Yi is to the Koreans what Marshal C.G.E Mannerheim is to the Finns? Perhaps it's time for a Kenyan movie adaptation of those naval battles ;)

Matthew said...

"About West Point and those Kims. Koreans are 0.5% of the country. Kims are a fraction of Koreans. About 1 in 5 Koreans. A thousand will graduate from West Point every year."

Eh? West Point has about 1200 cadets graduating per year. How could 1000 be Korean?
According to West Point's own data, 7% of its cadets are Asian, vs. 4.3% of the general population. Whites are also overrepresented (75% vs. 65.8%), with blacks ans Hispanics being underrepresented.

Anonymous said...

Japanese have too much empathy and are obsessed with cuteness? Maybe.

tail

Eric said...

The South Korean students here are kind of like what you'd have expected from the '70s and '80s. The guys wear bright colorful clothes and shoes, longish hair (relative to NE Asians overall), are more physically rambunctious (they punch each other in a friendly way), and are more talkative and sociable in public, all very informal.

I've noticed this as well. Korea is the Italy of the Far East. Koreans are quicker to anger and also to forgive. They're not afraid to show emotion, and it's culturally acceptable to do crazy things for love or revenge. It's a very different culture from China or Japan.

Simon in London said...

On way home today, and I see posters for 'Gangnam Style: Hey Sexy Lady! - Out Now!' plastered all over my bit of South London!!

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