In the last week, two news stories have competed for attention on the Korean peninsula.
In one, North Korea has threatened its neighbor to the south, as well as Japan and the United States, with nuclear Armageddon. In the other, a pudgy dance artist released the follow-up to the biggest worldwide video hit of all-time.
It was perhaps inevitable that Psy’s new song, “Gentleman,” would underwhelm considering the popularity of “Gangnam Style,” but in any case the song was met with a more measured response. Still, by the middle of the week it had been viewed more than 70 million times on YouTube, and the single quickly became iTune’s top seller on a global basis.
At a press conference in Seoul just before his concert to introduce the song and a new move called the “arrogant dance,” Psy touched on the crisis with North Korea. “It’s a tragedy,” he said. “We are the only country that’s divided right now,” adding he hoped his communist neighbors would enjoy his new music since the purpose was to make people laugh.
As facetious as the remark may sound, North Korea actually did get into the act, making a video of “Gangnam Style” that poked fun at Park Geun-hye when she was running for president. Park was elected and inaugurated in February.
The new song contains both Korean and English. “I tried to find Korean words that people from any country can easily sing along with,” Psy told reporters. The lyrics make fun of self-styled “gentlemen” who like to frequent dance clubs.
When asked if he would be disappointed if “Gentleman” isn’t as big a hit as “Gangnam Style,” Psy shrugged off the question, saying simply, “I’ve been doing this job for 12 years.”
The concert itself, which took place at the Seoul World Cup Stadium in front of 50,000 people, featured guest turns from K-pop stars G-Dragon, 2NE1 and Lee Hi, with whom Psy sang a duet. In addition to all his hits, Psy also did a version of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” dressed in a red and flesh-colored leotard.