The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Features

October 17, 2012

'Gangnam Style' tells economic truth of our day

TOKYO — It isn't every day that the finance minister of a major nation mentions a rap star when talking up his economy. But then South Korea isn't your average economy and Psy isn't your usual entertainer.

Bahk Jae-wan did that in an Oct. 9 interview. South Korea's top economic official cited the singer of the global smash hit "Gangnam Style" as an example of the kind of creativity and international competitiveness the country needs. It wasn't a laugh line. It was a plea for South Koreans to let their hair down and dream a bit.

It is something I had been wondering as "Gangnam Style" racks up hundreds of millions of hits on YouTube; earns Psy gigs on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and NBC's "Today Show"; works its way into North Korea's propaganda; and single-handedly strengthens South Korea's global brand. I'm a fan.



But face it, it isn't a particularly brilliant song. Nor would many say Psy (whose name is Park Jae-sang) is a world-class singer, dancer or stage presence. So how did a man who is relatively ancient by South Korea's pubescent pop standards do what no one had done before — go global?

The reason has more to do with economics than meets the eye and speaks volumes about where South Korea finds itself in 2012.

Before his song went global, it swept through South Korea's 50 million-strong population. Sure, the tune is catchy and his crazed horse-riding dance is a show-stopper. But its real appeal is the social satire that lies not very far below the surface. Gangnam is a ritzy part of Seoul that South Koreans see as an amalgam of Beverly Hills, Manhattan's Upper East Side and Tokyo's Shibuya district. It is South Korea's 1 percent enclave.

Text Only
Features
  • dog-sunglasses.jpg Do animals have a sense of humor?

    Right now, in a high-security research lab at Northwestern University's Falk Center for Molecular Therapeutics, scientists are tickling rats. Their goal? To develop a pharmaceutical-grade happiness pill. But their efforts might also produce some of the best evidence yet that humor isn't something experienced exclusively by human beings.

    March 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140317-AMX-DESIGN-FOOD178.jpg Fun and beautiful maps of the world made from signature regional foods

    Food stylist Caitlin Levin and photographer Henry Hargreaves have collaborated on a series of food-based country maps composed of signature national ingredients.

    March 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • AvengerExt.jpg Avenger an American value

    If you’re someone who appreciates the golden age of domestic sedans — those big, comfortable, heavy-feeling cars with a uniquely American sense of style — this one ought to pique your interest.

    March 7, 2014 2 Photos

  • Screen shot 2014-02-27 at 4.27.26 PM.png The glitz, the glamour and the movies: 3 apps for Oscar weekend

    With the Oscars approaching, this is a weekend for movies. Download these apps, then watch a few movies, create your own and settle in for the awards show.

    March 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140218-AMX-DESIGN-HOTEL182.jpg The rise of the hotel bakery

    One of the key trends in hotel design in recent years has been a sharp focus on creating a hotel lobby that is a destination, not just a pass-through.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • How the U.S. government spends millions to get people to eat more pizza

    WASHINGTON - It all adds up to a lot of calories: On an average day, the report notes, pizza provides 6 percent of the total caloric intake for American children and 4 percent for American adults.

    February 18, 2014

  • Mazda3Int.jpg Redesigned Mazda3 among best new small cars

    Mazda must be dabbling in black magic.
    How else can you explain the fact that this relatively small Japanese company is doing what no one else in the car industry seems to have figured out? They’re building cars that get amazing gas mileage and are exhilarating to drive at the same time.

    February 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • SoulExt.jpg Soul is still stylin’

    Starting under $15,000, the Soul has always pegged its success on buyers who want a trendy, contemporary, eye-catching car without spending a ton of cash. And now that an all-new Soul is out for 2014, it shows that Kia is doubling down on this recipe of combining funky looks and an affordable price.

    February 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 01.jpg US News names its 'Best Cars for the Money'

    WASHINGTON - U.S. News & World Report Wednesday announced its annual Best Cars for the Money list on its Best Cars website.

    February 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • You're doing it wrong: how to make better ramen

    NEW YORK — The finer points of instant ramen preparation may be up for debate, but the noodle cakes and flavor packets bequeathed to the world by Momofuku Ando are un-mess-up-able.

    February 10, 2014

House Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Featured Comment
Twitter Updates
Seasonal Content
Poll

Will you participate in March Madness?

Yes I watch the games and complete a bracket.
Yes I complete a bracket.
No
     View Results