Psy of “Gangnam Style” attacked Bush’s Iraq War, not America

Korean pop star Psy (Park Jae-sang ) is apologizing for performances in 2004 in which he condemned the Iraq War. At one point he sang another songwriter’s lyrics about US soldiers killing and torturing Iraqis and the need to fight back against them and their family members.

This is the purported video of Psy, protesting the use of torture by the US military in Iraq.

The lyrics were in poor taste, but not anti-American, just anti-war. The incident speaks volumes of how the Bush administration’s warmongering frittered away the good will many in the world had felt for the US. Opinion polls showed that US favorability ratings in Turkey fell from 58% to 9%, and in Indonesia from 75% to 22% in the Bush era, largely because of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the emergence of large numbers of photos showing torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

12 Responses

      • Juan, you might recall Jimi Hendrix’s song “Machine Gun”, where he sang from the point of view of the Vietnamese peasants under Yankee firepower: “Wanna pick up a gun and fight like a farmer.” This from a veteran of the 101st Airborne.

  1. Well said. I’d add that Americans are generally forgiving of passionate artists, because their passion suffuses their artistic gifts. People who condemn Psi should consider John Lennon, George Harrison and many others who were virulently ant-war.

    • “People who condemn Psi should consider John Lennon, George Harrison and many others who were virulently ant-war.”

      There is no equivalency between the anti-war stance of John Lennon and George Harrison, and the call to kill U.S. troops and their families by Psi. Lennon and Harrison held principled positions; Psi is just indulging in the usual self-absorbed, solipsistic, “The world revolves around me” antics that are the mark of his self-entitled ilk.

  2. “Well, calling for killing US troops and their relatives was over the top.”

    Well the Chosen One has no qualms about killing innocent relatives, does he?

    Ask Awlaki’s son.

  3. This is utterly incorrect. First of all, Psy had previously performed at an anti-American protest in 2002. The immediate cause of this protest was a US military vehicle running over two schoolchildren, but there was a strong undercurrent of anti-Americanism for a variety of reasons. Second of all, in 2003, a Gallup poll showed that 75% of South Koreans in their 20s (along with 67% of South Koreans in their 30s and 50% of South Koreans in their 40s). Additionally, opinions of the US by South Koreans were substantially lower in the years before the Iraq war than they are today (a 2011 Gallup poll showed a 65% favorability rating of Americans by South Koreans, the highest in history).

    More to the point, however, it is obvious from the lyrics that Psy’s sentiment was anti-American. When you are protesting a war, you generally do not come out in favor of torturing and murdering completely innocent people (i.e. the family members of those involved with perpetrating the Abu Ghraib abuses). That’s what you say when you hate a group of people.

    • When you are protesting a war, you generally do not come out in favor of torturing and murdering completely innocent people

      Generally, no, but this was done in the genre of screaming heavy metal, where themes of torture and murder are pretty common. It wasn’t like he wrote those lyrics on a sign at an anti-war rally.

  4. As it turns out, the lyrics to many hard rock songs are in poor taste.

    As an American music fan, this story makes me more interested in PSY.

  5. “The lyrics were in poor taste, but not anti-American, just anti-war.”

    Nonsense. He explicitly uses racial slurs (“Yangnyeonnom”) in the song and later refers to Americans as “Kokjangi” (also a racial slur which refers to big, ugly foreigner noses). If I were to say “Kill those Iraqi Suicide-Bombing Sand Niggers” would you suggest that it was just anti-war but not also anti-Iraqi?

    • Not a good analogy; Iraqis did not invade and occupy the United States. The context for the words, which I have said are wrong, is US war crimes in Iraq.

  6. I see your point. But let’s say Iraq invaded another country. Wouldn’t it still be an anti-Iraqi statement (and a racist one against all Iraqis) if I used that kind of language? That’s kind of why those words are created and used; they are for stereotyping entire groups of people, and I suspect Psy knew this. It seems like a bit of a contradiction for racist comments to be made in certain contexts because racist comments by their nature ignore any context.

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