South Korean rapper PSY says he hopes North Koreans will enjoy his new single even as tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula.
PSY released his latest single, “Gentleman,” in 119 countries on Friday, hoping to replicate the success of “Gangnam Style,” the smash YouTube hit that made him an international star almost overnight last year. The choreography for “Gentleman” — including the “arrogant dance,” as PSY called it — was unveiled at a concert in Seoul on Saturday before more than 50,000 fans. The music video has been uploaded onto YouTube.
PSY, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, said Saturday that he regretted the current tensions between the two Koreas. The situation has been grabbing global headlines, with North Korea becoming increasingly belligerent with war rumblings, leaving its neighbors wary of a possible missile test by Pyongyang.
“It’s a tragedy. We are the only countries divided right now,” PSY said at a news conference ahead of the concert.
North and South Korea, which are divided by heavily fortified borders, are technically still at war, with the 1950-53 Korean War ending with a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
PSY said he hoped North Koreans would enjoy his new music. He said his job was to make all people, including North Koreans, laugh.
“Hopefully my ‘Gangnam Style,’ my ‘Gentleman,’ my music videos and my choreography … they might enjoy them too,” he said.
When the “Gangnam Style” video went viral last year, it spun legions of parodies. Even North Korea’s government created a parody video of the hit, showing that the secretive country is well-versed in South Korean popular culture. North Korea used its “Gangnam Style” parody to criticize Park Geun-hye, then the presidential candidate for South Korea’s ruling party. Park was inaugurated as South Korea’s new president in February.
PSY’s “Gangnam Style” video, featuring his much-mimicked horse-riding dance, made him one of the best-known Koreans in the world. It’s the most watched video of all time on YouTube, gathering more than 1.5 billion views since its release in July.
PSY acknowledged that the massive success of “Gangnam Style” added to the pressure as he worked on his latest single, but he said he tried to remain true to himself and his Korean roots.
“I tried to find Korean words that people from any country can easily sing along,” he said of “Gentleman,” which contains lyrics both in English and Korean. PSY co-composed the music and wrote the lyrics, which poke fun at a self-claimed gentleman who enjoys his time at a dance club.
Audiences have questioned whether PSY will be a one-hit wonder known only for “Gangnam Style.” But the South Korean musician, whose humble personality has endeared him to his fans at home since he made his debut more than a decade ago, shrugs off the skepticism.
“Whether or not a couple of my songs become a global hit, I’ve been doing this job for 12 years,” PSY said. “I will bring more Korean dance moves and Korean songs overseas.”