At the moment all eyes and ears may be turned towards Pyongyang, but South Korea’s favorite son Psy made waves across the DMZ on Saturday with the release of a new tune, which has tipped the balance of media attention directed at the Korean Peninsula in a slightly softer direction.
Since the Gangnam Style video became the first on YouTube to top one billion views last December (the number now exceeds 1.5 billion), Psy (real name Park Jae-sang) has been busy. Over the past few months, he has performed for heads of state, appeared at Brazil’s Carnival and dropped hints about potential forthcoming songs (and retracted one). But no new material was forthcoming. This changed dramatically on Saturday with the release of his new song Gentleman.
In its first two days the YouTube video for the song, released a day after the song hit online stores worldwide, received more than 50 million hits. The play button was pressed more than 10 million times in the first 24 hours alone, setting yet another YouTube record.
The video features more of Psy’s trademark antics, including fun on elevators and humorous pranks, lampooning his not so gentlemanly side. Just before uploading the video, Psy first flooded South Korea’s bandwidth with his “Happening” concert on Saturday in Seoul – also broadcast via YouTube – in which he gave the nation his first live performance of the song.
Viewers who tuned in to the show were treated to a dose of sensory overload that could have easily carried an epilepsy warning. Decked out in his characteristic sunglasses and a checked black and white top with tuxedo suit and pants, Psy energetically pranced across the stage, flanked by a legion of dancers moving in unison to an infectious, bubbly beat with a heavy bass line. Frantic animated graphics of cars and psychedelic geometric patterns flashed across a massive screen behind the stage, while pyrotechnics, smoke machines billowing multicolored mist and a laser show assaulted the crowd – seen gleefully bouncing to the beat.
“Ah ah ah ah – I’m a mother father gentleman,” read the subtitles in the YouTube video of the performance. “Good! Feeling feeling? Good! Softly! Literally! … I’m a party mafia!”
At one point in the concert, Psy appeared on stage in a red skin-tight bodysuit for his cover of Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It),” which he dedicated to the American R&B icon. Ensuring that all possible bases had been covered, while performing Paradise, Psy swooped over the crowd of 50,000 in a harness.
Meanwhile, only 195 kilometers away in Pyongyang, celebrations of a very different variety are underway in Pyongyang, commemorating the birth of DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) founder Kim Il Sung, who was born 101 years ago today.