PSY apologizes for anti-American rap

"Gangnam Style" star is sorry for performing a song that urged the slow and painful deaths of U.S. leaders

By David Daley
December 8, 2012 6:50AM (UTC)
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Has America done its last horse dance?

PSY -- the South Korean rapper behind the "Gangnam Style" sensation -- was in damage control mode today, apologizing for two anti-American performances well before his 900 million YouTube views.

In 2002, the Washington Post reports, PSY performed at a protest aimed at the U.S. military presence in South Korea. He "lifted a large model of a U.S. tank and, to cheers and applause, smashed it against the stage."


Then in 2004, at a concert also targeting the American military presence, he covered a song called "Dear American" by the South Korea metal band N.E.X.T.

The verse which raised controversy today was translated as:

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


PSY is scheduled to perform on the "Christmas in Washington" special on Sunday with President Obama. Awkward!

That led to an apology late this afternoon:

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 featured on in question from eight years ago – was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. 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 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. While it’s important that 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 through music, our universal language, we can all come together as a culture of humanity, and I hope that you will accept my apology.

On the plus side, it seems safe to say Alan Simpson won't be doing the horse dance any longer to try and convince the kids that entitlement cuts are cool.


TNT, meanwhile, has said PSY is still scheduled to be on the "Christmas in Washington" broadcast. The White House said earlier on Friday that the president, as is traditional, plans to attend.

The Post does an excellent job of placing the protests and PSY's involvement in political context:


In May of (2004), an extremist group led by al-Qaeda’s Abu Musab al-Zarqawi captured a South Korean Christian missionary in Iraq. They demanded that Seoul cancel its plan to send 3,000 troops in support of the U.S.-led invasion and, when South Korea refused, sent a tape of his beheading to Al Jazeera. “Korean citizens, you were warned,” the executioner announced. “Your soldiers are here not for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America.”

Koreans again took the streets in protest, first against the terrorists in Iraq, but then against the governments they saw as responsible for putting Koreans in harm’s way. “While most of the peninsula’s fury was directed toward terrorists in Iraq as well as Korean government policy, some anti-U.S. military protesters seized the moment to put forth their cause,” Korea-based journalist Bobby McGill explains. “Once again, PSY was involved. This time he admonished not only the terrorists and then president Roh Mu-hyun, but he also allegedly unleashed a vitriolic condemnation of American military personnel and military brass.”

David Daley

David Daley is the author of "Unrigged: How Americans Are Battling Back to Save Democracy" and a senior fellow at FairVote.

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