鍾樂偉: Gangnam Style的南韓社會流行現象

K pop要衝破語言障礙成為風靡全亞洲的文化消費現象,賣弄型男索女的舞蹈、身材和臉孔,一直是他們在亞洲流行文化建立成功品牌的方程式。

然而近日一首在南韓熱爆,且廣傳到數十萬里外歐美音樂文化搖籃地的韓文歌曲。

其反其道而行的製作方式,卻竟然獲得名人如Britney Spears、Justin Bieber、Katy Perry、T-Pain和Robbie Williams等在自己的Twitter微博上推崇,並指出更有想學跳這個舞的衝動。

最近,此歌還躍升到了美國iTunes音樂MV排行榜榜首,開創了南韓歌手的先河流行曲,風頭簡直一時無兩:這就是南韓歌手PSY的最新歌曲<Gangnam Style>。

有看過此MV的朋友,大概都會只以 “啼笑皆非” 四字來總結對這個MV的評價,絕對對為何這首歌和其MV會成為今夏瘋行南韓和歐美等國感到迷惑。

這首歌中,既沒有俊男、也沒有應有扣人心弦的勁舞,換來的只是在南韓有大叔級歌手的PSY和他令人難以接受的 “騎馬舞”。

當然,簡單得令人感到幽默搞笑已展現出其成功的一面,但其實背後無論其歌名、歌詞內容和表達方法,都有著反映出南韓當下社會價值衝突的爭論圖像,這些都是令人感到共鳴認同的原因。

江南地理與南韓發展關係

<Gangnam Style> 中的Gangnam,是指首爾的江南地區,這是相對於首爾江北區域的分野。在首爾的地理劃分中,是以一條貫穿首爾南北地區 “漢江” 為界,一分為二地分成 “江北” 和 “江南”。

“江南” 地區包括有 “江南區” (Gangnam-gu)、“瑞草區” (Seocho-gu) 和 “松坡區” (Songpa-gu)。

歷史上,“江北”一直是南韓首都首爾政經發展的中心,當中的 “中區” (Jung-no)屬整個首都的地理中心、“鐘路區” (Jongno-gu)則是舊首爾城發展的核心,也是韓國傳統600多年來每個皇帝皇后和後來的總統的居所之地。

曾經遊覽首爾的,也大概知道不少有名的歷史建築物,包括皇宮、博物館、紀念碑等等,都是位於鐘路區。可見江北對韓國歷史的價值具有舉足輕重的地位。

直到70年代以前,“江南” 地區都是在首爾中較為發展落後的地段,主要是種植大白菜和韓國梨的農地。亦有被稱為 “永東” 的別名,因為其地理上屬永登浦 (Yongdeung-po)的東邊。

然而,由於自60年代中後期起,南韓總統朴正熙在南韓推動大規模的經濟改革和城市發展,江北地區集中發展為政治和工業的核心地帶,再把江南地區開發為商業和住宅區。

透過在1969年建成打通首爾南北的漢南大橋 (Hannam Bridge) 和在1970年建立貫穿南韓南北兩地的京釜高速道路,把首爾和釜山這兩個南北大城市連接起來,並把首爾的連接點建在位於江南的 “瑞草區”,成功把江南地區的交通和發展輸紐的重要進一步凸顯出來。

因而到了80年代起,由於江北地區的發展出現飽和和環境欠佳等問題,不少原屬江北地區的名校都遷移至江南 (因而有名為 “江南第8學校區”),帶動當區的地價和樓價不斷飈升,從60-80年代間升幅超過 800-1300倍。

地價上升也吸引商機,江南不單轉型成是上流社會名流經常出沒的熱點,更吸引不少名店、整容公司在那裡開設分店,主導首爾高消費一族時尚生活的潮流。

金玉其外的經濟奇蹟

正如前文所說,自江南成為每一位南韓人趨之若鶩入住和生活的身份象徵地帶後,江南人和江北人在經濟條件和心理認同便發生了兩極化的落差。

江南遂成走在潮流尖端、高級、權貴和財富的文化圖騰,反之江北卻淪為落伍、守舊和走進歷史的價值區。

PSY歌曲<Gangnam Style>中的意思就是表示出一位住在江南地區、擁有財富、地位、掌握時尚潮流脈搏和豐厚物質條件的有錢人。

他坐享江南這種得天獨厚的經濟身份,自豪地認為以短短十數年間 “升級” 的文化有無比的優越感,不欣賞有傳統韓國文化的古蹟、文化遺產和生活價值。

昔日的90年代起,的確江南地區是一塊反映出南韓 “經濟奇景” 的一片福地。虛榮、享樂與繁盛的生活籠罩著那個年代和那片樂土。

其後的亞洲金融風暴只是短暫帶來緊縮陣痛,無止境的消費生活常態得以大體維持,但金玉其外背後卻隱含著極大的經濟危機。

透過政府在金融風暴後大力鼓吹消費,而且在極強的經濟信心驅使下,信用卡消費慢慢成為南韓人習慣的生活模式,但他們往往在入不敷出的環境下繼續消費,積累的貸款逐漸形成困擾當下南韓大部份家庭的社會危機。

就如2010年,南韓家庭平均的負債已超出家庭入息的155%。當然,消費生活與南韓的國家經濟發展歷史有很大關係,在短短的數十年間從一個落後的農業國家一躍而成今天的世界經濟十大強國。

國民的價值觀被超額付出的勞力扭曲成只認同物質生活,單從2010年江南地區的財富佔南韓國家GDP的7%便可略知一二。

諷刺江南原是一場夢?

當然,以PSY的個人背景 (原名朴載相、畢業於美國名校波士頓大學和伯克利音樂學院,以獨特的台風及親自撰寫諷刺時弊的歌詞引起社會爭議。

例如在2001年正式的出道時因其專輯內容為青少年不宜而遭到限制販售、其後又因吸食大麻而遭到警方逮捕、更因虛報資料瞞騙服兵役而被檢舉) 和他在製作特輯的解釋,諷刺江南這種虛有其表、只懂消費而沒有目的的盲目追求潮流的文化,是他編制這首<Gangnam Style>的一大目的。

歌曲當中,有不少隱含PSY想借江南的 “糜爛生活”諷刺南韓人膚淺追求的物質享樂,但結果只是一場又一場自我美化夢境的虛妄。

(1) 歌詞人提到想找一個能夠與我一起有品味地喝杯咖啡的女子,其實背後的意思是反映出當下不少南韓女性 “愛充大頭” 的消費心態。

近日南韓興起一個詞彙叫 “豆醬女” ,是指那些長相不好看,卻又愛慕虛榮女性,例如他們只能花$10吃一個普通即食麵,但卻不按財政條件地買一杯價值$40 的Starbucks咖啡。因為他們在看過 “Sex and the City” 以後,認為喝Starbucks是西化、高級的象徵,因而希望模仿的膚淺行為。

(2)MV開首時PSY想像著自己在一處有美女相伴的沙灘中享受日光浴,但一覺醒來卻是被一群小朋友包圍著。諷刺江南地區因為被各校入侵而成為家長爭相入住的地帶。

(3)PSY去到桑拿店,以為自己與商人談生意,結果身邊卻是黑幫流氓。

(4)PSY想像自己好像名人P. Diddy一樣有美女陪伴走在紅地毯上,撲面而來的是五光十色的紙屑。但現實卻是走在一個空曠無人的荒廢車場,吹向他們的卻也是垃圾和飄雪。

(5)PSY想像著自己在江南區的夜總會跳舞,但現實是與中年婦人在巴士上跳舞。

(6)PSY想像著自己就像在富人地區俱樂部的泳池暢游,但結果發現自己卻在公眾浴池。

(7)PSY想像著自己好像P. Diddy一樣坐在豪華椅子,但實質是坐在廁所上。

當然,當下的南韓雖然已擁有一個健全的民主自由社會,但在新自由主義經濟體制下,能夠負擔得起生活在江南地區的社會精英,大多都是保留著濃厚的階級和守舊思想。

他們透過自己的政社經地位和朋友關係緊握權力,為自己及下一代把這種不平等繼續 “世襲” 下去,例如免去服兵役的國民要求、享受更豐厚的學習環境和生活質素。

雖然PSY也是來自上述的背景,但正如他曾經在訪問中講到 “請看著我,雖然我是也是來自江南,但我看起來不是很俗氣和可憐嗎?”。

希望這句自嘲說話,一來可以為過著糜爛生活的江南一族帶來自省,也可以為南韓接近臨界爆發的仇富心態舒一口氣。

(作者鍾樂偉現為澳洲悉尼大學韓國研究系博士候選人,南韓韓國學中央研究院訪問學人,Roundtable香港國際關係研究學會總研究主任。研究興趣包括南韓政治與社會文化、兩韓外交關係及北韓核外交與經濟改革政策等等。) (轉載自http://thehousenews.com/personal

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Comment by iPLOP on January 26, 2013 at 10:07pm

台灣天下雜誌:韓國15年甩開台灣(三)

關鍵抉擇二:政策落實vs.口號計劃

韓國最大網路公司、最大遊戲入口網站、市值最高(超過三千五百億台幣)的網路企業NHN,執行長金相憲接受《天下》專訪時,承認政府對他的成功有貢獻。

在網路初興的九0年代末期,韓國政府就大力扶植網路產業。在全韓鋪設基礎設施,成為全球網路最快速、覆蓋率最高的國家。

“韓國政府永遠走在市場需求之前,”金相憲說,韓國政府發展網路產業,並不是直接金援重點企業,把它養大;而是創造好的環境,讓企業自己拚。

(連青蛙都大跳“騎馬舞” Feature Photo: Gangnam Style by Shikhei Goh, http://www.shikheigoh.com/)

而且,從台韓“關鍵時刻的關鍵抉擇”年表看出,韓國政府的政策(FTA藍圖、推動韓流、重振汽車產業等)落實度都高,具國際競爭力;台灣政府的政策(自由貿易港區、六大新興產業等),執行成效不彰,也不具國際競爭力。

“要談FTA,一定要先鞏固國內產業的實力。否則,企業一定死一地,”一位前財經官員焦慮地說。

2012年國慶演講中,馬英九總統指出要推出“自由經濟示範區”、加速與各國簽免稅協定、並大幅放寬外來資金投入台灣產業的限制,“未來開放是常態,管制是例外,”他說。

但比起韓國政府的“準備”功夫,台灣還差很大一截。

以FTA的談判人員為例,韓國外交部的通商交涉本部,就有二百二十個談判人才,而台灣經濟部的核心貿易談判人才,只有三十四人,無論是人數與經驗,都需要急起直追。

Comment by iPLOP on January 10, 2013 at 6:13pm

台灣天下雜誌:韓國15年甩開台灣(二)

關鍵抉擇一:FTA快攻vs.仰賴ECFA

為了贏,韓國政府選擇大開國門。

一九九七年金融風暴,韓國被IMF接管後,政府的國家經濟戰略,就是以FTA(自由貿易協定)為主。打開韓國大門,也打開韓國商品在全球市場的滲透率。

從二○○二年,韓國談下第一個FTA伙伴智利,至今,韓國是唯一已經完成與東協、歐盟、美國三大經濟體簽下FTA的亞洲國家。簽有FTA的國家貿易額佔韓國總體貿易額,已達三五%。

去年,韓國貿易總額突破一兆美元,躍升全世界第九大貿易國。而台灣,仍是世界第十八大貿易國。

(Photo Affection: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001859855533)

經濟部長施顏祥不諱言,“從國際競爭角度來看,韓國FTA佈局比我們早,速度比我們快,規模比我們大,對我們形成壓力。”

施顏祥解釋,因外交因素,台灣花了十二年,才加入WTO;○二到一○年,完成中美洲邦交五國的四個FTA,但只佔台灣貿易總額的千分之二。一○年,與中國大陸簽訂ECFA,五百多項的早收清單,全部加起來,“佔台灣貿易總額不到五%。”

研究過去六十年,台韓貿易量的消長發現,台灣出口金額曾是韓國的四倍以上,而一九七五至九四年以前,雙方也都勢均力敵。

然而九七年後,台韓出口競爭力逆轉,雙方差距愈來愈大,○三年起韓國更加速猛簽FTA,如今已大幅甩開台灣,無論是出口金額或貿易總額,都幾乎是台灣的兩倍。

台灣的前五大貿易地區,是中國大陸、東協、美國、歐盟、日本。去年,在這五大地區的市佔率,台灣全盤皆輸韓國。

但若以為韓國模式,就靠FTA的國門大開,讓產業自己在“市場”競爭,就大錯特錯。

韓裔的英國劍橋大學政治經濟學教授張夏準,在《富國的糖衣》一書中指出,外界以為韓國是新自由經濟的代表,市場愈自由愈好,政府干預愈少愈好。

事實上,韓國的成功是選擇特定產業扶植保護,直到成長足與國際抗衡的程度。可見,韓國政府對產業環境的保護,有清楚的拿捏。

(文/侯如珊, 轉載自2012-10-17天下雜誌508期)

Comment by iPLOP on December 13, 2012 at 9:08pm

台灣天下雜誌: 韓國 15年甩開台灣 (一)

韓國大叔Psy的歌曲MV “江南Style” 紅遍全球,創下YouTube點擊超過四億次的超高紀錄,衝上英國流行歌曲排行榜第一名、美國排行榜第二名。

韓國的 “騎馬舞”,在全球重燃新一波的韓流。不僅台灣企業大老學跳馬舞,美國總統大選的宣傳片中,假扮的歐巴馬也扭起了雙腿。

這不僅展現韓國娛樂業的實力,更替今年超越歐、美,引起世人嫉妒的韓國,爭取了許多「好感」。

韓國首爾的江南區,等同於台北市信義區,代表高級生活圈。

三十出頭的台灣媳婦Lisa,就住在江南區狎鷗亭的公寓大廈,先生在三星集團總部工作,人人稱羨。

她嫁來韓國五年,努力學會韓語,融入社會。“ 台灣每年約有一百人嫁到韓國,交流網站上的討論不脫三件事:菜價太貴、婆媳關係、先生長時間工作。”

可見,韓國人為了這令人豔羨的成功,付出了不少代價。

物價高昂是其一。今年一到八月,韓國物價年增率是二.四%,遠高於台灣的一.八%;工時是其二。去年韓國人工時二三一二小時,在IMD報告排名全球第二,比台灣人每年工作多出二三八小時。

韓國式成功,得來、維持都不易,韓國人為什麼願意付出?

如果比喻台灣是小康家庭,價值觀多元,追求幸福感。那麼韓國就是曾經家道中落、失去一切的落難家庭,好不容易才掙得重生,相信非贏不得成活——“愛贏才會拚”。

在崇尚個人價值、自由主義的今天,韓國強烈的愛國主義,深埋在不同年齡層的韓國人心中。

一九九七年,Lisa的先生從名校首爾大學畢業,準備出國留學,卻因亞洲金融風暴,積蓄一夕之間貶值一半。使得這位原本不愁吃穿的中產家庭之子,留美期間得拚命打工。

“現在,我先生也每天工作很晚才回家,偶有抱怨,但公公勉勵他,要為 ‘韓國’ 的未來打拚,” Lisa說。

她觀察,韓國看起來很國際化,社會價值觀卻很傳統,願意犧牲一切。因為,只有向上,才能得到好生活。

(文/侯如珊, 轉載自2012-10-17天下雜誌508期)

Comment by 鮮拿哥 on November 7, 2012 at 10:04pm

我相信人有第二度發育,包括認知發育;受到強勢文化灌頂,看什麼都像那潮流,比如江南大叔的騎馬舞過熱,害我看每個人每件事,都想起 Psy 。

其實回想一下,一般人何嚐不是這樣, Oppa Gangnam Style 一發瘋,很多人的想像力就往那兒發展,老老少少、男男女女都變成江南大叔;事事物物都騎馬飆舞。

連《中國好聲音》選秀競賽,都與之沾邊。

一個跨越疆界文化、團結全人類的新國度誕生了。

 

Comment by 鮮拿哥 on October 17, 2012 at 6:41pm

夏季已经过去一段时间了,可是今年夏季开始红烧的南韩骑马舞曲《江南风格》,仍在全球延烧。

从西洋红星的新舞步,到台湾的中医师卖药、新马幼儿园恳亲会,都得大跳特跳这支劲舞。

真正欢乐的全球化,好像是靠南韩这回的软实力给完成了。

大家集体入教K Pop(韩流)后,也开始变得谦虚向学:大韩民国的江南,究竟是一个怎样的地方?

这个寒假一家子就到哪儿去朝圣吧。

总叫人充满想象吧:在汉江边做有氧早操的正妹们,臀部不仅发育良好,而且翘得天那般高;大人小孩、大姨和和黑社会大佬,都那么友善而善于骑马术;骑完马就去打网球。

虽然这些事物,正是Psy大叔(原名朴载相)在歌里所要嘲笑的,人们还是想想去看看,这地方究竟有何特别,特别到让人想好好讽刺它一顿,结果却让它闻名到全世界去。

韩国首都首尔汉江之南的好风景、好事物,可大大不止这些哪。

一个贫困、备受内战威胁的国家,经济从1970年代开始起飞,取得与台湾、香港、新加坡齐名的“亚洲四小龙”地位。

她比其他三条小龙更威的是,她还在1988年举办过奥运会;2002年联合日本举办过世界杯足球赛。

从用心良cooool所转载过的黑白照片来看,首尔(原名汉城)江南区原是美军坦克车辗转、农人苦耕的乡区。

遇上韩国举办1988年汉城奥运会的契机,这儿才开始大规模开发,兴建了完善的基础设施,一跃成为韩国最繁华的商业区和最昂贵的住宅区。

短时间内的蜕转,不禁使人想起中国的深圳。

熟悉首尔的人都知道这里住着很多富商名流和艺人,所以大家都俗称江南为富人区。在这里不只有国际顶尖的时尚品牌,还有很多名设计师开的服装店。

许多“美女”最熟悉的首尔江南地区,大概就是以狎鸥亭为中心,往东西延伸就是所谓的“整形街”。

(Photo Appreciation: Seoul in Blue by Ohad Ben-Yoseph, http://ohad.me/)

(Photo Appreciation: Sun Rays over Han Gang by Young Sung Bae,http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002439734535

(Photo Appreciation: Night view - Cheongdam Bridge by Hyunwoo Park, http://www.facebook.com/hyunwoo.park.35175)

(Photo Appreciation: Gangnam Style by Daniel Carroll, https://www.facebook.com/HeadShotBoom)

(Photo Appreciation: Signs over Gangnam by Colin Jameshttp://www.facebook.com/colin.james.75248

(Photo Appreciation: Hi... High by JEONG W.Hhttp://500px.com/tele6655)

(Photo Appreciation: Gangnam Intersection magic hour by Romain Johnhttp://www.facebook.com/romain.john)

(Photo Appreciation: Gangnam Style by Jungmin Oh, http://www.facebook.com/ojmproject)

Comment by 用心涼Coooool on October 13, 2012 at 7:37pm

Brian Ashcraft: Way Before “Gangnam Style”, Gangnam Was Very Different

This summer, the K-pop single "Gangnam Style" hasn't only been popular in its native South Korea, but it has also captured the imagination of those outside the country.

Gangnam is a ritzy area of Seoul and the term "Gangnam style" obviously refers to that district.

However, Gangnam wasn't always galloping horse dances, tennis courts, and morning aerobics.

Here's a look at how the area has changed since the Korean War, courtesy of web forum Daum (via KoreaBang).

Originally, the area was called Youngdong, but since then, it's become known as Gangnam.

The photos below, you can see UN tanks in Gangnam's Sinsa-dong and rice paddies.

By the 1960s, roads and bridges helped provide the infrastructure necessary for the area's growth to take off. By the 1970s, there are blocks of apartments that make a marked contrast with the rural fields that surrounded them.

However, the Gangnam of today really started to emerge around the 1988 Seoul Olympics, as the Games helped create even more rapid, and impressive, urbanization.

The Trade Tower, viewable above, was built in 1988 and is one of the country's tallest buildings.

The images below show just how far Gangnam has come in the last sixty (or so) years with much of the most explosive growth occurring in the last few decades.

(Republish from: http://kotaku.com/5941267/before-gangnam-style-gangnam-was-very-dif...)

Comment by iPLOP on October 11, 2012 at 12:47pm

Max Fisher: Gangnam Style, Dissected: The Subversive Message Within South Korea's Music Video Sensation

Beneath the catchy dance beat and hilarious scenes of Seoul's poshest neighborhood, there might be a subtle message about wealth, class, and value in South Korean society.

Park Jaesang is an unlikely poster boy for South Korea's youth-obsessed, highly lucrative, and famously vacuous pop music. Park, who performs as Psy (short for psycho), is a relatively ancient 34, has been busted marijuana and for avoiding the country's mandatory military service, and is not particularly good-looking. His first album got him fined for "inappropriate content" and the second was banned. He's mainstream in the way that South Korea's monolithically corporate media demands of its stars, who typically appear regularly on TV variety and even game shows, but as a harlequin, a performer known for his parodies, outrageous costumes, and jokey concerts. Still, there's a long history of fools and court jesters as society's most cutting social critics, and he might be one of them.

Gangnam Style", has earned 49 million hits on YouTube since its mid-July release, but the viral spread was just the start. 

The American rapper T-Pain was retweeted 2,400 times when he wrote "Words cannot even describe how amazing this video is." Pop stars expressed admiration. Billboard is extolling his commercial viability; Justin Bieber's manager is allegedly interested. The Wall Street Journal posted "5 Must-See" response videos. On Monday, a worker at L.A.'s Dodger stadium noticed Park in the stands and played "Gangnam Style" over the stadium P.A. system as excited baseball fans spontaneously reproduced Park's distinct dance in the video. "I have to admit I've watched it about 15 times," said a CNN anchor. "Of course, no one here in the U.S. has any idea what Psy is rapping about."

I certainly didn't, beyond the basics: Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park's "Gangnam Style" video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man. That alone makes it practically operatic compared to most K-Pop. But I spoke with two regular observers of Korean culture to find out what I was missing, and it turns out that the video is rich with subtle references that, along with the song itself, suggest a subtext with a surprisingly subversive message about class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society. That message would be awfully mild by American standards -- this is no "Born in the U.S.A." -- but South Korea is a very different place, and it's a big deal that even this gentle social satire is breaking records on Korean pop charts long dominated by cotton candy.

"Korea has not had a long history of nuanced satire," Adrian Hong, a Korean-American consultant whose wide travels make him an oft-quoted observer of Korean issues, said of South Korea's pop culture. "In fact, when you asked me about the satire element, I was super skeptical. I don't expect much from K-Pop to begin with, so the first 50 times I heard this, I was just like, 'Allright, whatever.' I sat down to look at it and thought, 'Actually, there's some nuance here.'" 

One of the first things Hong pointed to in explaining the video's subtext was, believe it or not, South Korea's sky-high credit card debt rate. In 2010, the average household carried credit card debt worth a staggering 155 percent of their disposable income (for comparison, the U.S. average just before the sub-prime crisis was 138 percent). There are nearly five credit cards for every adult. South Koreans have been living on credit since the mid-1990s, first because their country's amazing growth made borrowing seem safe, and then in the late 1990s when the government encouraged private spending to climb out of the Asian financial crisis. The emphasis on heavy spending, coupled with the country's truly astounding, two-generation growth from agrarian poverty to economic powerhouse, have engendered the country with an emphasis on hard work and on aspirationalism, as well as the materialism that can sometimes follow. 

Gangnam, Hong said, is a symbol of that aspect of South Korean culture. The neighborhood is the home of some of South Korea's biggest brands, as well as $84 billion of its wealth, as of 2010. That's seven percent of the entire country's GDP in an area of just 15 square miles. A place of the most conspicuous consumption, you might call it the embodiment of South Korea's one percent. "The neighborhood in Gangnam is not just a nice town or nice neighborhood. The kids that he's talking about are not Silicon Valley self-made millionaires. They're overwhelmingly trust-fund babies and princelings," he explained. 

This skewering of the Gangnam life can be easy to miss for non-Korean. Psy boasts that he's a real man who drinks a whole cup of coffee in one gulp, for example, insisting he wants a women who drinks coffee. "I think some of you may be wondering why he's making such a big deal out of coffee, but it's not your ordinary coffee," U.S.-based Korean blogger Jea Kim wrote at her site, My Dear Korea. (Her English-subtitled translation of the video is at right.) "In Korea, there's a joke poking fun at women who eat 2,000-won (about $2) ramen for lunch and then spend 6,000 won on Starbucks coffee." They're called Doenjangnyeo, or "soybean paste women" for their propensity to crimp on essentials so they can over-spend on conspicuous luxuries, of which coffee is, believe it or not, one of the most common. "The number of coffee shops has gone up tremendously, particularly in Gangnam," Hong said. "Coffee shops have become the place where people go to be seen and spend ridiculous amounts of money."

The video is "a satire about Gangnam itself but also it's about how people outside Gangnam pursue their dream to be one of those Gangnam residents without even realizing what it really means," Kim explained to me when I got in touch with her. Koreans "really wanted to be one of them," but she says that feeling is changing, and "Gangnam Style" captures people's ambivalence.

"Koreans have been kind of caught up in this spending to look wealthy, and Gangnam has really been the leading edge of that," Hong said. "I think a lot of what [Psy] is pointing out is how silly that is. The whole video is about him thinking he's a hotshot but then realizing he's just, you know, at a children's playground, or thinking he's playing polo or something and realizes he's on a merry-go-round."

Psy hits all the symbols of Gangnam opulence, but each turns out to be something much more modest, as if suggesting that Gangnam-style wealth is not as fabulous as it might seem. We think he's at a beach in the opening shot, but it turns out to be a sandy playground. He visits a sauna not with big-shot businessmen but with mobsters, Kim points out, and dances not in a nightclub but on a bus of middle-aged tourists. He meets his love interest in the subway. Kim thinks that Psy's strut though a parking garage, two models at his side as trash and snow fly at them, is meant as a nod to the common rap-video trope of the star walking down a red carpet covered in confetti. "I think he's pointing out the ridiculousness of the materialism," Hong said.

(If you're wondering about the bizarre episodes in the elevator and with the red sports car, as I was, it turns out that those are probably just excuses for a couple of cameos by TV personalities, which is apparently common in South Korean music videos.)

None of this commentary is particularly overt, which is actually what could make "Gangnam Style" so subversive. Social commentary is just not really done in mainstream Korean pop music, Hong explained. "The most they'll do is poke fun at themselves a little bit. It's really been limited." But Psy "is really mainstreaming it, and he's doing it in a way that maybe not everybody quite realizes." Park Jaesang isn't just unusual because of his age, appearance, and style; he writes his own songs and choreographs his own videos, which is unheard of in K-Pop. But it's more than that. Maybe not coincidentally, he attended both Boston University and the Berklee College of Music, graduating from the latter. His exposure to American music's penchant for social commentary, and the time spent abroad that may have given him a new perspective on his home country, could inform his apparently somewhat critical take on South Korean society. 

Of course, it's just a music video, and a silly one at that. Does it really have to be about anything more complicated? "If I hadn't seen that behind-the-scenes, I would have said he's just poking fun at himself," Hong said of the official making-of video, which is embedded at right. It's mostly of Park or Psy having fun on set, but at one point he pauses in filming. "Human society is so hollow, and even while filming I felt pathetic. Each frame by frame was hollow," he sighs, apparently deadly serious. It's a jarring moment to see the musician drop his clownish demeanor and reveal the darker feelings behind this lighthearted-seeming song. Although, Hong noted, "hollow" doesn't capture it: "It's a word that's a mixture or shallow or hollow or vain," he explained.

Kim seemed to feel the same way about the video, though it's so cheery on the surface. "He was satirizing more than just this one neighborhood," she told me. On her blog, she suggested the video portrayed the Gangnam area, a symbol of South Korea's national aspirations for prosperity and status, as "nothing but materialistic and about people who are chasing rainbows." Pretty heavy for a viral pop hit. 

"I think it all ties back to the same thing: the pursuit of materialism, the pursuit of form over function," Hong said. "Koreans made extraordinary gains as a country, in terms of GDP and everything else, but that growth has not been equitable. I think the young people are finally realizing that. There's a genuine backlash. ... You're seeing a huge amount of resentment from youth about their economic circumstances." Even if Psy wasn't specifically nodding to this when he wrote the song and shot the video, it's part of the contemporary South Korean society that he inhabits. "The context is all of these tensions going on where Koreans are realizing where they're at, how they got there, what they need to do to move forward."

It's difficult to imagine that much of this could be apparent to non-Koreans, which Kim told me is why she decided to write it up on her blog. "I thought people outside Korea might take it just as another funny music video. So I wanted to explain what's behind [it] and the song." Still, is it possible that the video could have caught on for reasons beyond just its admittedly catchy beat and hilarious visuals? After all, Korean pop really does not seem to typically do well in the U.S., and this has gotten enormous. "It's kind of the first genuine pop-culture crossover from Korea," Hong said, noting it's "more in the American style." Maybe it's possible that, even if the specific nods to the quirks of this Seoul neighborhood couldn't possibly cross over, and even if the lyrics are nonsense to non-Korean speakers, there's something about obviously skewering the ostentatiously rich that just might resonate in today's America.

Whatever the case, Koreans seem to be proud of their first big musical export to the U.S., Hong said, noting that the Korean media has meticulously covered the video's tremendous reception here. "Koreans are definitely talking about it and pointing to it as a source of national pride." Maybe there's something relatable about Gangnam style.

(Aug 23 2012, http://www.theatlantic.com)

Comment by 抱抱,看新聞 on October 4, 2012 at 3:46pm

鄭丁賢: 江南式預算案

我似乎愛上了……胖哥的江南式,就是Oppa is Gangnam style,Sexy Ladyyyyy……。

我看了各種版本,母子版、父女版、美媚版、救生員版、吉隆坡DJ版、沙巴客家版。

當然,最經典的還是胖哥PSY的原創版本,當他扭動渾圓的身體,舞出騎馬動作,大家情不自禁跟著哼唱、搖擺。

這才是娛樂,讓人感受其中之樂。

看了兩三遍之後,我卻不禁想,江南式到底在唱甚麼,跳甚麼?要表達甚麼?

這支MTV風靡全球,固然是拜勁爆的音樂,以及詼諧的騎馬動作之所賜;但是,在音樂和舞蹈之外,它的歌詞,以及它的影像,是否帶有特殊的意含?

動了這個念頭,我一頭栽進去,逐句讀其歌詞,唔,我必須說,歌詞內容很簡單、表面、重覆,沒有多大意義。

然而,配合歌詞看影片,每個鏡頭配合起來,哦,帶出玄機。

我又花了一個多小時,看胖哥PSY接受電視台訪問,談他悲喜交加的起伏人生,唔……,我明白了胖哥的意思。

江南指的是首爾的富裕高尚的地區,有如洛杉磯的比華利山莊。這裡有最華美的房屋、豪華的汽車、時髦的商品、時尚的男女。

在這裡,人們喝意式濃縮咖啡,在海灘享受人生,騎馬休閒,這就是人們稱羡的江南生活方式。

但是,江南有其另外一面。喝意式咖啡的背後,必須餓肚子;海灘其實是兒童遊樂場;騎馬是有騎無馬,空有姿態,或只是旋轉木馬。

胖哥在幻想和現實中穿插。他進入三溫暖,裡頭沒有大富豪,只有黑社會頭子;他高歌熱舞,不是在演唱會,而是在狹小的旅遊巴士。

胖哥在自嘲,也在嘲諷社會的膚淺;這個社會表面上很繁華,其實是打腫臉充胖子;人人都要做上流人,卻沒有上流品質;大家都愛享受,卻是超越了本身的能力,享受不起。

這讓我回到2013年度預算案;大送糖果,大派鈔票,500令吉援助金、公務員一個半月花紅、提高退休金,社會新鮮人領250令吉,年輕人買手機貼200令吉……。

然而,這些好處,是否具有經濟效益?能否帶動生產力?強化財政體質?

或者,只是自我膨脹,製造奢華,造成浪費,鼓勵依賴?

PSY舞出的江南,其實是一個虛胖的社會,繁華只是假象,時尚亦是偽裝。

管理國家的經濟和財政,不能是江南式,還是腳踏實地,量入為出,不為取悅民眾,而在於長遠之計。

(04-10-2012星洲日報/馬荷加尼‧ 作者:鄭丁賢 ‧《星洲日報》副總編輯)

Comment by iPLOP on October 3, 2012 at 4:35pm

再好吃的佳餚吃得多也很膩;原版江南風格大叔騎馬熱舞聽得多,也覺得雜亂吵耳?

來一個沒有音樂的版本吧,看看感覺是否比較清新?

這戲搞的傢伙也太有才了,人家是後期製作加上音樂;

而他的後後製作又把音樂去掉,聽起來變成好像是前期半成品。

Comment by 用心涼Coooool on September 27, 2012 at 9:47pm

Ya, I found the English translation of Psy's Oppa Gangnam Style:

Oppa is Gangnam style

Gangnam style

A girl who is warm and humanle during the day
A classy girl who know how to enjoy the freedom of a cup of coffee
A girl whose heart gets hotter when night comes
A girl with that kind of twist

I’m a guy
A guy who is as warm as you during the day
A guy who one-shots his coffee before it even cools down
A guy whose heart bursts when night comes
That kind of guy

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

A girl who looks quiet but plays when she plays
A girl who puts her hair down when the right time comes
A girl who covers herself but is more sexy than a girl who bares it all
A sensable girl like that

I’m a guy
A guy who seems calm but plays when he plays
A guy who goes completely crazy when the right time comes
A guy who has bulging ideas rather than muscles
That kind of guy

Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Beautiful, loveable
Yes you, hey, yes you, hey
Now let’s go until the end

Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style, Gangnam style
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two
On top of the running man is the flying man, baby baby
I’m a man who knows a thing or two

You know what I’m saying
Oppa is Gangnam style

Eh- Sexy Lady, Oppa is Gangnam style
Eh- Sexy Lady oh oh oh oh

Read more: http://www.kpoplyrics.net

 

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