Psy’s new song, “Gentleman” may be just what the world needs after all the negative rhetoric coming from North Koreas’ Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un has filled our news headlines for quite some time now. His threats of missiles and wars have brought world leaders to take him more seriously than in the past. It has even motivated U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry to make a visit to South Korea, China and Japan in hopes of garnering enough support from them to deter an attack from North Korea. In the midst of all these belligerent threats comes a new hip hop song from Psy, “Gentleman”.
Psy performed in a packed Seoul World Cup stadium of 50 000 people on Saturday April 12, 2013 where Korean fans sang, danced and moved to his new song. In that moment, the world’s focus was diverted from North Korea and focused on South Korea. The world came on a full alert as Psy was about to debut his new song, after his global sensation, “Gangnam Style” song and dance video hit the world in the summer of 2012.
Since Psy’s world-wide national fame from “Gangnam Style,” the pressure was on him to produce another international hit song so he would not be labeled a “one hit wonder”. His “Gangnam Style” was able to gain a record breaking 1.5 billion hits on YouTube. It was an enormous feat to try to follow. Psy openly shared the enormous pressure he felt to produce another worldwide hit after the unexpected fame from “Gangnam Style.”
In spite of the stress he was under, Psy’s concert performances and his new song did not disappoint his loyal fellow Koreans and his world-wide fans.
Many of Psy’s songs are parodies or social critiques of current events and culture. Psy is a fabulous dancer and can replicate the difficult dance moves of other singers such as Lady Gaga or Beyoncé. He is quickly becoming known as a singer who is good at making fun of people and society. And it appears that Koreans can’t get enough of him.
The new song, “Gentleman,” has a catchy tune to which many dancers (or those who like to exercise) can move to. The main dance move is borrowed from K-pop star Ga In from the popular girl group “Brown Eyed Girls.” The dance is a well-known dance to Koreans and Psy wanted to introduce that dance to the world.
The new music video has familiar faces from his “Gangnam Style” video. Psy’s arch nemesis in the yellow suit, comedian Yoo Jae Suk, is in it as well as the elevator guy, entertainer Noh Hong Chul. Both of these men are well known comedians in Korea, so their reappearance is a welcome addition to the Korean audience.
Psy’s new video once again uses comedy to make fun of reality. His “Gangnam Style” video made fun of the rich people’s lives in Gangnam. Almost every scene in that video made fun of the rich whose consumerist lifestyle is hollow and meaningless.
Psy uses comedy to make fun of men who call themselves “gentleman.” Scenes include him groping a mannequin, bumping a woman taking a sip of coffee, yanking the chair out from a woman trying to sit down at a restaurant. He even presses all the buttons in an elevator where a passenger is in need of going to the restroom. His actions continue as he yanks the strings of a bikini top, takes a soccer ball away from small children, and throws his shirt on a woman (Ga In) working out at the gym.
However, this woman (Ga In) gives him a taste of his own medicine as they go out to eat at a pogang-macha (a popular Korean outdoor restaurant usually made with a makeshift tarp roof). There she kicks the chair out from below him and makes him realize that he is not a gentleman at all.
The song is making fun of men who on the outside appear as gentlemen but really are not at all. The outside appearance may mark him as someone good, but he is really not good. Since Psy frequently performs in suit and tie, it is a parody about himself and he does a good job of doing it.
In certain ways, Psy’s new song brings the attention away from the North Korean Communist leader, Kim Jong-un who may want to present himself as a gentleman to the world, when in reality, all his rhetoric of war, missiles, guns, soldiers make him the ultimate Mussolini styled leader of a world long gone.
In the end, it is Psy who will get the last laugh and laugh himself all the way to the bank. As he does, he will perhaps recreate himself as a true gentleman who takes the world’s focus away from Kim Jong-un and to a world of laughter, joy and, dance.
Grace Ji-Sun Kim is Associate Professor of Doctrinal Theology and the Director of the MATS program at Moravian Theological Seminary. She is the author of Colonialism, Han and the Transformative Spirit (Palgrave Pivot), The Holy Spirit, Chi, and the Other: A Model of Global and Intercultural Pneumatology (Palgrave Macmillan) and The Grace of Sophia: A Korean North American Women’s Christology (Pilgrim Press).