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article image'Gangnam Style' starts war of words between South Korea and Japan

By Robert Myles     Oct 23, 2012 in Entertainment
South Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" caught the world's imagination from Paris to PA. but across the East Sea/Sea of Japan stern words were exchanged. South Koreans are miffed that in Japan ‘Gangnam Style’ merely seems to be bubbling under.
In Japan, Korean K-pop music is big business but, somewhat anomalously, whilst Psy’s “Gangnam Style” has got people breaking into spontaneous dance routines in city streets and squares all over the world, the reaction of Japanese music fans has been, to say the least, sniffy.
Now, in South Korea, there are even suspicions that the reason their neighbours lack enthusiasm for Psy’s ditty may stem for a territorial dispute over contested islands in the Sea of Japan, causing Japanese pop-pickers to shun the song, reports France 24.
Gangnam Style has topped the UK Charts and currently sits at number 3 in the BBC Chart, having featured in the charts for 9 weeks. Currently, it’s number 1 in the US Billboard Chart. It’s a different story in Japan, however, where it’s barely on the radar, just managing to reach the top 30 of the Japanese iTunes chart, reports GMA News.
Some Japanese music blogs have been disdainful of Gangnam Style's success. There have been claims that the success of Gangnam Style on YouTube, where the official video has had in excess of 530 million views, is down to nothing more than the dastardly South Koreans using automated viewing programmes, ‘bots,’ to rack up pageviews rather than real, foot tapping, music fans. And it gets worse. Many Japanese music fans now teasingly refer to ‘Gangnam Style’ as ‘F5 Style,’ a geeky reference to the ability of the ‘F5’ keyboard key to refresh the window of an internet browser.
But the South Koreans aren’t going to stand for this without taking to the dance floor. Yesterday, the Korean Wave Research Institute (KWRI), an arts body entrusted to promote Korean popular culture worldwide, responded. KWRI president Han Koo-Hyun denounced the “conspiracy theories” threatening to taint the success of ‘Gangnam Style’ and claimed the Japanese allegations were “tantamount to doubting a world record in an Olympics marathon". In a press release, Han said that scepticism about the song's worldwide success and popularity on YouTube "should be viewed as a primary school kid's jealousy and envy."
Not content with defending the success of "Gangnam Style", getting into his stride, Han then upped the tempo pouring scorn on the only Japanese entry in the top 30 all-time, most-viewed videos. According to France 24, currently ranked 29th with more than 237 million views, the Japanese pièce de résistance consists of a young Japanese woman dropping some mentos sweets (candy) in a bottle of diet coke, skooshing the drink everywhere.
Han then stood on a few Japanese toes during his routine, mocking what he described as the "most grotesque and preposterous content" of the entire video chart and describing the Japanese œuvre as, "another lowly example showing the video-related preference of the Japanese".
A number of reasons have been expostulated to explain the lack of success of "Gangnam Style” in Japan, one being that Psy didn’t bother to release a Japanese version. That will cut little ice with some. To many in the English speaking world, the English language version is only marginally more comprehensible than the original Korean version of the song.
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