The Politics behind ‘Gangnam Style’
The song is deeply political, a disciplined and sustained attack on the ruling class of Seoul. … PSY has not chosen a randomly pleasant neighbourhood to target his attack: he is aimed directly at the heart of South Korean capitalism. In comments on the song PSY has emphasized that he is concerned not only with the phenomenon of Gangnam itself, but the fact that for many young Koreans who are not obscenely wealthy, the neighbourhood is becoming an model on which to live their own lives. It is becoming a machine by which the Korean one per cent tell the rest of the nation how to live. And it is into this machine that he is throwing a spanner.
How does he attack it? First of all by becoming a Gangnam man, dressing up in the trappings of high fashion and parading himself through the sites of privilege: a luxury beach resort, the stables of an exclusive country club, an elite discotheque, doing deals with the captains of industry in a Korean sauna. In reality of course, as a successful musician he is part of all this — but he sits in a strange position in relation to it. At 34, too old to really be a proper pop star, he takes the role of court jester, a position of cultural power which allows him to be so effective at attacking Gangnam.
I think PSY is the Korean Jack Black - a stocky, talented, theatrical musician who’s in on the joke. Check out the rest of Spruce’s article at New Matilda, where he dissects the cultural and policitcal significance of the song and what it reveals about Korea and K-Pop.