So in case you haven’t heard yet, Psy is in hot water over in America, as his past involvement with “anti-American” protests have now caught up with him, garnering coverage from the mainstream media in America and a ton of backlash.
Being involved in protests isn’t so bad, and I suspect most people would completely shrug it off if they didn’t hear the specific lyrics he rapped in N.EX.T.‘s song, called “Dear American“.
Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully
Pretty fucking raw, right?
Well, I agree, but there is a necessary context to all this though.
The concert reportedly took place months after the kidnapping — and subsequent beheading — of South Korean missionary Kim Sun-il by an Islamist group, who demanded the nation cancel plans to send 3,000 troops to support the U.S. war in Iraq. After the South Korean government refused to back down, Kim’s execution was videotaped, with the masked executioner stating “Korean citizens, you were warned, your hands were the ones who killed him … your soldiers are here not for the sake of the Iraqis, but for cursed Americans.”
After the beheading, massive protests erupted across South Korea, with citizens taking to the streets over the nation’s plans to send troops to Iraq. And it also helped fuel anti-American sentiment in the country, which had been simmering for almost two years, following the killing of two 13-year-old South Korean girls by members of the U.S. military — which has maintained a large presence in the country since 1954 — and their subsequent acquittal by American military courts. Psy also performed at a protest concert following that event, one where he lifted an American tank above his head and smashed it on the stage.
If you were aware of the situations at the time, you’d know that both incidents were a HUGE clusterfuck in Korea, so Psy’s feelings on the issues aren’t necessarily surprising.
Nevertheless, he has apologized for his actions.
Still, the vitriol in those lyrics was readily apparent, and on Friday (December 7), Psy issued a statement to MTV News, apologizing to anyone his words offended.
“As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world. The song I was featured in — from eight years ago — was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two innocent Korean civilians that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time,” the statement read. “While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.”
“I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months — including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them — and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology,” the statement concluded. “While it’s important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”
What do I think? I think I can understand everybody involved. Every time something like this happens, you don’t have to choose a side and defend the position to the death, which people never seem to realize.
As a prime example of that, if you read the comment section on allkpop, you’ll see how it has turned into a Psy apology fest, where they basically complain about how terrible America and Americans are, so therefore it’s totally okay to say whatever about them. It’s hilarious to see them call Americans sensitive and what not, but if an American artist were to say Koreans and Japanese deserve to die, those same people would label the American artist a racist and probably rally for him/her to be banned from the country forever. After all, over there, shit follows you if you say anything that can even be remotely interpreted as anti-Korean or anti-Japanese, much less if they explicitly say it. So honestly, fucking spare me the whining about how Americans are reacting to it when you’re on an Asian entertainment site. I mean, really, do you think Americans are the only country in the world that would react badly to those lyrics? Give me a fucking break.
So I understand the backlash he’s getting, and if there was any doubt whether he would be a one-hit wonder or not, well … sadly I think this might be a nail in his coffin. People will take this shit personally, so it’s probably not the best idea to wish death on the market you’re trying to conquer. Hello and welcome to the price of celebrity, which is the exact reason I say that if K-pop wants to conquer America, they have to get with the modern societal standards here, because shit like this or idols doing blackface or whatever else will eventually come out if they become relevant. This will follow him for a while, which is ironically sort of death for a foreign artist trying to break new ground.
Of course, that’s not to say I don’t understand where he was coming from at the time. What he did was primarily an expression of emotions that he felt during that controversial time. The anger, the frustration, and the sadness came out as that hatred, which is sort of what artists do, so it’s not like it was some statement meant to be taken literally, as people seem to assume. As I said on Twitter, Psy doesn’t wish death on Americans any more than Ice Cube actually wanted to kill all Koreans or Eminem was actually going to kill his wife or gangsta rappers actually kill people regularly. Look, I can’t relate to actually killing people, but I do enjoy gangsta rap because I can relate to the emotions expressed, the feelings in the words. That’s what this was about to me.
Knowing how the Internet works though, I don’t expect either side to understand, especially now that both parties have already likely mounted their moral high-horses and are riding off into battle to slap fight each other online as we speak. For those of us who can put aside overreactions though, I’ll take it for what it is and move on.