the South Korean rapper famous for ” Gangnam Style,” apologized today for a 2004 performance in which he said American soldiers should be killed “slowly and painfully.”
The apology comes two days before he is scheduled to perform at a holiday concert that will be attended by President Obama and his family. TNT, the organizer of the concert, told ABC News that Psy will perform on Sunday as planned.
A White House official confirmed to ABC News that the Obama family will attend the Dec. 9 taping of “Christmas in Washington,” as is custom. The annual charity function benefits the National Children’s Medical Center and the entertainment is not chosen by the White House. It will be broadcast on TNT Dec. 21.
Now that he has issued an apology should Americans just let this all go? I say not yet because to use a phrase often used by Koreans after the 2002 Armored Vehicle Accident, his apology is not sincere enough for me. He did not even issue this apology himself, he had his publicist issue it. After the 2002 accident as well as other notable GI crime incidents in Korea, US generals themselves have had to publicly apologize for the misbehavior of US troops due to past claims of insincere apologies. PSY’s publicist probably had this apology typed up months ago sitting in his My Documents folder on his computer just waiting to send it out once PSY’s anti-American past was uncovered. Like I said in my prior posting, someone in the American media should interview PSY about this and we should hear straight from him an apology, not from his publicist.
However, there are plenty of people who think that Americans should just let this go. For example Max Fisher writes on the Washington Post website that this isn’t a big deal because we just need to understand Korean’s special situation. Here is an excerpt:
But there is also something perhaps deeper, something alluded to in the 2002 protests, in which Koreans accused Washington of trying to control their country, as past Asian empires had done. As South Korea transitioned from military dictatorship to democracy, and from a poor rural country to an advanced urban society, Koreans started to feel “new stirrings of nationalism arising from their country’s rapid economic growth and political liberalization,” historian Jinwung Kim has written. That nationalism manifested, in part, as a rejection of “Korea’s ‘big brother,’ the United States,” Kim wrote. Research by Katherine H.S. Moon, an academic at Wellesley College, linked the “rejection of authoritarianism” and growing national consciousness to “resurgent nationalism” and a newly mainstream anti-Americanism. [Washington Post]
What defenders of PSY have been saying is that PSY and Koreans in general were correct to be upset in 2002 because the soldiers involved in the armored vehicle accident were acquitted because of the SOFA. Before reading further I recommend if you haven’t already to read my prior article on this accident linked below that to this day is the most complete account of this incident available any where:
What I have not seen one journalist say yet is that the Korean military has its own SOFA in countries where their troops are deployed that give them the same legal jurisdiction that the US military has over its troops in Korea. In fact over the years there has been multiple incidents where Korean troops have killed local nationals due to accidents and negligent discharges. The Korean military did not give up legal jurisdiction in those cases. In fact for crimes that military members commit in Korea the ROK military keeps jurisdiction over those cases. So there is absolutely nothing unusual about the US military taking jurisdiction after the accident in 2002. In fact the US military gives the Koreans more legal jurisdiction over US troops than what the Korean military allows for their troops. For more background information about this topic read the below posting about the US-ROK Status of Forces Agreement:
Additionally the people defending PSY make no mention about the blatant lies spread on the Korean Internet and media about the accident. Many of the lies such as the soldiers intentionally drove over the girls or were seen laughing at the dead bodies after the accident are still believed by many Koreans. So does PSY still believe the various lies spread during this time that caused so much of the anti-Americanism? Once again we won’t know unless someone asks him.
The bottom line is that in 2002 there was a perfect storm of events that created the mass anti-American movement that year. There was a feeling at the time due to the 2000 North-South summit that North Korea was not the threat it used to be and nationalism in South Korea was at an all-time high due to their wildly successful hosting of the World Cup that year. In fact it was months after the accident happened that wide scale anti-American protests began because of how wrapped up everyone was with the World Cup. Once the euphoria from the World Cup died down the anti-US groups were able to launch their effective misinformation campaign on the Internet and later the mainstream media about the accident that caused the mass protests. Then at the same time that year there was a Korean presidential election that caused the politicians in Korea to not want to step up and defend the US after the accident.
This inability of the Korean government to try and mediate the aftermath of the accident led to violence against US servicemembers in Korea. US bases were raided and firebombed by protesters. In fact three US servicemembers were kidnapped off a subway, beaten, and then taken to a local sports stadium where they were forced to make anti-US statements in front of a cheering crowd before they were released by the protesters. So there was many factors that led to such anti-Americanism and violence against US servicemembers in Korea that songs like what PSY sung helped to create. Does PSY condone this behavior? Once again someone should ask him.
If PSY comes clean in a media interview and apologizes for his past behavior than I am willing to let this go because a lot of Koreans said stupid stuff back in 2002 so PSY is not alone. PSY’s current prominence may actually be a good opportunity for both Americans and Koreans to put an end to some of the bad feelings remaining from that period. PSY should use this as an opportunity to raise his profile above being just a one hit wonder and Internet sensation and instead be a statesmen on an important issue between the two countries. Whether PSY continues to hide behind his publicist or he decides to be the statesman I think he can be remains to be seen.