South Korea’s Psy performs at a 2006 concert in Incheon.

South Korean rapper PSY exploded onto the American music scene in 2012 with his boyish smile and outlandish style, quickly earning him a place in American’s hearts from Hollywood heights to party house basements.

Due to such rampant popularity, the picture above may seem somewhat familiar to all except the most incurable shut-ins. It features a make-up wearing PSY dressed in a red leotard, bedecked with sparkles, and complete with artistically placed rips. As far as fashion goes, it definitely meets the rappers unconventional image. Yet, this is not the bespectacled, suit wearing, “horse dance” gallivanting, chubby Asian pop-star who has become a much beloved staple of American culture. Not the PSY whose “Gangnam Style” video recently reached over 2 billion views on YouTube, and certainly not the PSY who performed for the President of the United States at the 2012 Whitehouse Christmas Concert. No this is another face of PSY, anti-American protest rapper whose lyrics included lines urging that American daughters, mothers, daughter-in-law and fathers be killed.

When confronted with this version of PSY, the most noticeable change is in his expression. The boyish grin is gone; the flashy shades removed, and in their place burning eyes glare out through a pale complexion, as the rapper points out to the crowd gathered at an Anti-American rally in 2006. The rally came in reaction to the recent death of two South Korean school-girls who were killed in an accident involving a U.S. military vehicle. The next thing which must be considered is the color of PSY’s outfit: Red. As his lyrics made abundantly clear, the rapper, PSY, was calling not for justice, but for revenge: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. The violent nature of his songs was exemplified by an act of smashing a model U.S. Tank on stage during his performance.  Finally, this picture stands apart aside from the fashion because it is devoid of the sheer, unworldly ridiculousness which the current PSY all but wallows in.

Despite his Anti-American past, PSY still has overwhelming popularity in the United States. South Koreans, also admire him for doing what no other Korean artist has done, break into the American music scene. Furthermore, PSY has put South Korea on the map in a way that even the Korean War never did. Electronic powerhouse Samsung went as far as to ally itself with the rapper and tailor its new product line around specifically around him. All these go to show that without a doubt he is a fantastic showman but it still begs to question which PSY behind the shades is the real one. Hopefully not the one pictured above, for that one is certainly no cause for relief.


Fisher, Max. “Gangnam Nationalism” Why Psy’s anti-American rap shouldn’t surprise you.” Washington Post. December 7 (2012): n. page. Web. 4 Mar. 2013. <>.

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  1. I think the questions you should ask is why is there an American tank/ vehicle driving over people in South Korea? then maybe you can understand he was pretty upset with the tragedy & it’s handling….If a French tank was in the UK & ran over 2 school girls & the soliders got away with it, you really think it would be any different….Whoever wrote this article obviously doesn’t understand what rap is: music of oppression & politics…

    1. REB MAX:

      To insist that rap based on social commentary is the only “real” form of rap is a misconception. Rap, as a creative mode of expression, goes beyond “oppression and politics” and involves several genres. Please see That’s the Joint: The Hip Hop Studies Reader, F. Murray Foreman and Mark Anthony Neal) for a comprehensive history of hip hop by the originators of the form, journalists and academics.

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