KOREAN MUSIC: Wait! PSY's Gangnam Style Video Gets Propaganda Treatment?


After reading this New York Times (NYT) article, "Viral Video Gets Propaganda Treatment," written by Su Hyun Lee, an NYT reporter, I have to wonder what he/she is talking about.

First of all, the entire article does not live up to its title.  Did Lee want to criticize the North Korean propaganda levers to ridicule a South Korean presidential candidate or South Koreans' "inferiority complex"?  His/Her article lacks coherence, not to mention fairness.

Secondly, I found the last two paragraphs of the article perfectly ridiculous:


NYT article written by Su Hyun Lee (9/20/2012)


One, no South Koreans I know in the United States or South Korea consider PSY to be less than refined. Of course, there must be some others including the writer himself/herself who think like that, but most of the people with sanity appreciate the aesthetic value of his originality/creativity and respect his artistic endeavors of 12 years. I don't think Lee is aware that PSY has been always serious about his music and the messages it conveys; and it's really unprofessional for him/her to make strong assessments solely based on his/her shallow and biased knowledge.

Two, South Koreans are not hungry for "exposure"; it's just amazing and quite fun (or even funny) to them how PSY has gained global fame "without really trying" to promote the song or himself to the world market. On the other hand, if Lee and Dafna Zur are talking about Korean-Americans living in the U.S., like myself, it may hold some water as most of them are happy to witness the course of his rising stardom as if he were their own son.  Why am I happy for him?  Maybe it's partly because I'm one of the ethnicities that are still treated as foreigners while living in this country of immigrants; or partly because one day I feel respected and treated fairly for who I am, then the next day I feel discriminated against only because of my appearance, living in this country called the "Melting Pot"; or simply because I'm just lonely living apart from my parents, siblings, and old friends and happy to see this guy from my motherland live on TV. Whatever the reason is, I wouldn't call it "an inferiority complex."  Even when I feel discriminated against, I never feel inferior 'cause it's their fault not mine. Lee and Zur may insist that feeling discriminated against stems from my "inferiority complex" but as we all know, women or blacks fought for equal rights not because they had "an inferiority complex" to men or whites but because discrimination in any place, in any form, is always unacceptable.

And Lee is not even talking about Korean-Americans; he/she is talking about South Koreans living in South Korea which is no longer a poor, war-torn nation suffering from "an inferiority complex" if there was any. And they are so used to getting the international attention (for nearly 20 years now) thanks to the Korean Wave (aka, Hallyu), even before this PSY craze. Plus, contrary to Zur's belief, no South Koreans (I'm not talking about celebs here) think "any publicity is good publicity." Rather, they highly resent being misrepresented or misinterpreted, and who wouldn't?

And lastly, but certainly not leastly, I found Zur's “inferiority complex” remark the most offensive since Maureen Corrigan's 2011 jibe of “Kimchee-scented Kleenex” in her review of Shin Kyung-sook's Please Look After Mom. Seriously, she didn't even bother to employ political correctness when accounting for a country and its people and culture other than hers. I wonder if she will ever dare to use exactly the same phrase describing, for example, the African-American people and their culture. If she does, I'll be in awe of her audacity.


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