Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Features

October 18, 2012

'Gangnam Style' tells economic truth of our day

TOKYO — It isn't every day that the finance minister of a major nation mentions a rap star when talking up his economy. But then South Korea isn't your average economy and Psy isn't your usual entertainer.

Bahk Jae-wan did that in an Oct. 9 interview. South Korea's top economic official cited the singer of the global smash hit "Gangnam Style" as an example of the kind of creativity and international competitiveness the country needs. It wasn't a laugh line. It was a plea for South Koreans to let their hair down and dream a bit.

It is something I had been wondering as "Gangnam Style" racks up hundreds of millions of hits on YouTube; earns Psy gigs on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" and NBC's "Today Show"; works its way into North Korea's propaganda; and single-handedly strengthens South Korea's global brand. I'm a fan.



But face it, it isn't a particularly brilliant song. Nor would many say Psy (whose name is Park Jae-sang) is a world-class singer, dancer or stage presence. So how did a man who is relatively ancient by South Korea's pubescent pop standards do what no one had done before — go global?

The reason has more to do with economics than meets the eye and speaks volumes about where South Korea finds itself in 2012.

Before his song went global, it swept through South Korea's 50 million-strong population. Sure, the tune is catchy and his crazed horse-riding dance is a show-stopper. But its real appeal is the social satire that lies not very far below the surface. Gangnam is a ritzy part of Seoul that South Koreans see as an amalgam of Beverly Hills, Manhattan's Upper East Side and Tokyo's Shibuya district. It is South Korea's 1 percent enclave.

Text Only
Features
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 24, 2014

  • McCain 1 House Republicans are more active on Twitter than Democrats

    Your representative in the House is almost certainly on Twitter. Your senator definitely is. But how are they using the social network? Are Democrats more active than Republicans, or vice versa? Who has the most followers on the Hill?

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Do your genes make you procrastinate?

    Procrastinators, in my experience, like nothing better than explaining away their procrastination: General busyness, fear of failure, and simple laziness are just a handful of the excuses and theories often tossed around. Now researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder have added another option to the list: genetics.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Doctors to rate cost effectiveness of expensive cancer drugs

    The world's largest organization of cancer doctors plans to rate the cost effectiveness of expensive oncology drugs, and will urge physicians to use the ratings to discuss the costs with their patients.

    April 17, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • To sleep well, you may need to adjust what you eat and when

    Sleep.  Oh, to sleep.  A good night's sleep is often a struggle for more than half of American adults.  And for occasional insomnia, there are good reasons to avoid using medications, whether over-the-counter or prescription.

    April 16, 2014

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 14, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

AP Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.