Oppa’s Gangnam Style 강남 스타일


Gangnam style is the newest single by Korean artist PSY 싸이, an upbeat and extremely catchy song about the Gangnam-style boy who is searching for his ideal Gangnam-style girl.  This sort of girl likes to be classy and sip coffee at an overpriced cup of coffee by day, but let her hair down party by night.

Gangnam style is the newest single by Korean artist PSY 싸이, an upbeat and extremely catchy song about the Gangnam-style boy who is searching for his ideal Gangnam-style girl.  This sort of girl likes to be classy and sip coffee at an overpriced cup of coffee by day, but let her hair down party by night.

The song hit #1 on the Gaon Chart immediately after its release on July 15th, 2012 and had remained at the #1 position for over 5 weeks as of this posting.

PSY’s real name is Park Jae-Sang 박재상 and he has been active in the Korean music industry since around 2001 under the label of mainly “Rap” here. He speaks fluent English, which is not surprising since he attended Boston University followed by Berkley College of Music for his education.

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On top of his work as PSY, he has also written music and lyrics for many successful groups here in Korea over the years in-between his own album releases.

DJ DOC– 난 이런 사람이야 (I’m this kind of person)  |  Lexi– 애니멀 (Animal)  |  신화 (ShinHwa) – 위하여 (Cheers)

Tony Ahn – Top Star  |   Oolala Session– 아름다운 밤 (Beautiful night)

are all very notable and popular singles he worked on, the list goes on much longer~ but these are just a few examples fans of K-pop may be familiar with!  His own singles have has success through the years and his work is known for having a fun tone to it sometimes, so really “Gangnam Style” is not that surprising for fans of PSY’s other albums I am sure.

One other bit of info on PSY is that his career shining right now is very lucky considering he has been involved in two “scandals” here that have killed other singer + actors careers in Korea.  In 2001 he was arrested for possession of marijuana and was fined 500 million won, this drug is a minor offense most places, but a very big deal in Korea and even prison time can be handed out if you are caught with enough.

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Despite that bad press he overcame the bump in the road and was doing well till his required 2-year ROK military service that all Korean men must serve. In 2005 he was given a cushy desk job exempting him from the normal training, but apparently he was grossly neglecting his job (and apparently making money on the side which is a no-no while you do the service here) so after his 2 years of required service was ALMOST finished, the court ruled against him and made him repeat those two years all over again!

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After all that mess he returned to the scene in 2010 and started back up where he left off, and thankfully for PSY the public welcomed him back with open arms. I was unfamiliar with his work, but I knew him from the Military drama because it was big news when it happened a few years ago because he tried to fight the charges!


Perhaps it was all the catchy horse gallop dancing, the simple “gangnam stye, hey sexy lady” chorus, or just the overall wackiness of the video~ for some reason PSY’s newest song and music video “Gangnam Style” completely blew up online internationally with youtubers!  In just 41 days the video on his official account has jumped over the 50 million view mark which is record time. Mainstream news overseas like CNN and ABC have also covered this explosion of Gangnam love, bringing in new watchers every day and giving PSY a healthy dose of international recognition that he surely deserves.

Here in Korea his popularity is still going strong, PSY has been around for many years (this is his 6th album) so his return has been glorious to say the least.  Even though the song has been out for over a month and should be dying down at this point,  you can not make it a day without hearing the chorus in a store around Edae, Hongdae, yeah even Gangnam… it follows you everyplace and soaks into your brain.

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Koreans on the street and in the cafes are all talking about PSY a lot this week, Nara and I could hear conversations about him all weekend while we were out~ Korea loves it when something gets international recognition, so as long as the foreigners love Gangnam style we are going to keep hearing about it here.

Dancing in front of the 한국종합무역센터  Korea World Trade Center which is visible from the Han river where a lot of this video takes place.

So what the heck does “Oppan Gangnam style” mean?

Gangnam is basically the “Rich” area of Seoul, so when someone says they live in Gangnam or the hang out in that area you immediately have a certain perception of them.  The girls are skinny, from good families, usually have had a bit of plastic surgery, often study abroad, well dressed, with just a dash of sexy and sophistication who want a boyfriend with the same style and background in a fancy car.  That is the stereotypical Gangnam youth.

 Maybe a good comparison would be Beverly Hills since you can get the same immediate mental images, so when he says he is “Gangnam style” and wants a girl that is “Gangnam style” he is saying he is wealthy, classy, and that kind of hip yet refined person that is associated with the area. I enjoy hanging out in Gangnam myself on the weekends, and everyone really does feel kind of clean cut and trendy, yet still kind of a fancy pants. haha it is hard to explain, but then again the song was written for people who live in Korea and have an ingrained attitude about that area immediately

What about the “Oppa / Oppan” part? In the Korean language you have male and female words that you use for people older than you, “Oppa” is what a girl can use to refer to a boy older than her. In English it translates to “older brother”, however its use is not limited to just a brother by blood~ cousins, classmates, friends, and even boyfriends can be called “Oppa”.  Usually boys love being called “Oppa” by girls because it is often used as a cute and affectionate term so most girlfriends do refer to their boyfriends as such.

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I remember in language class one of the guys was disturbed by the fact that someone he was dating could call him “Oppa Brother” and her family member “Oppa Brother” and it was not considered weird or icky. lol it is just one of those things, Oppas take care of you.

The “Oppan” extra “n” in the lyrics is a shortened version of  Neun 은/는 which is what you use to mark the topic in a sentence~ so instead of “Oppa neun Gangnam style” we get just “Oppan Gangnam style“.  In English I would translate this as basically “Oppa’s Gangnam style” or “I (your Oppa, so he is talking to a girl) am Gangnam style“. Got it?

So why is this song so funny? Just because it is a silly video right?

PSYs lyrics alone are just fun and catchy, he says he is a classy smooth guy who can drink his hot coffee in “One shot” and wants a girl that can be that beautiful proper lady, but also let her hair down and be that sexy girl at the club sometimes. These are enjoyable lyrics to listen to, but not super funny if you actually read what they mean and listen.  What IS funny is the visuals of the music video because PSY is singing the whole time how he is “Gangnam style” looking for his Gangnam dream girl, but he is so NOT “Gangnam style” with his thicker body and tacky suit, dancing around funny and looking in all the wrong places for that sort of woman.

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The song itself was an instant hit as soon as it launched, but what has kept it alive all of these weeks has been the humor of the related music videos I think~ It has definitely given the single a push.

He walks with a sexy strut~~~under the bridges of Gangnam with the blowing trash

Pampers himself in a sauna~~~where only Korean Mafia gangsters go.

Relaxes in the sun at the beach~~~only it is actually a children’s playground with sand

Goes boating on the Han river~~~in a dirty old boat named “Arirang” in the middle of the tacky rental swan boats.

Takes a few laps in the pool~~~only it is in a public bath house tub

Horseback riding~~~on a merry go round

Partying~~~with old ladies on a typical tacky tour bus here. I have been on one, they sing Karaoke and everything haha

and pretty much just creeping around the Han river at all the girls working out.

He never really hits the hip or posh areas of Gangnam, that is why it is so funny~

In the end he meets his dream “Gangnam girl” but actually on the train

PSY stated with most of the imagery in the video he wanted to make people laugh and just obviously have a good time.

Not everyone can live the high class Gangnam lifestyle here in Korea, so most people can get some chuckles at the attempts of this poor guy trying to say “I’m so Gangnam, look at me!” when he is clearly not~ mocking the silly lavish lifestyle and posers associated with that area a bit.

♥ Gangnam Style Cameos ♥

Another thing that added to the videos success (I think) were the cameo appearances placed throughout…

The adorable dancing mini PSY is  Hwang Minwoo 황민우 a popular contestant from Korea’s got talent this year~  he is just 7, can you believe it??  He has made appearances on several shows since his debut, you can click the link in his name to see one appearance he made recently.

The happy thrusting elevator man is comedian Noh Hong-Cheol known for his work on Muhan Dojeon무한도전 (Infinite Challenge) doing his trademark “Nasty Dance”which is kind of this thing around here. Apparently his appearance in the video was unplanned, he stopped by the shooting to visit PSY and ended up getting roped in to participating. lol

The old men playing a traditional game of Janggi 장기 (a familiar site in areas of Korea like parks) are Seungri and Daesung, members from the hugely popular K-pop group Big Bang

The super fly Gangnam boy who dance battles Psy in the yellow suit is beloved comedian and host Mc Yoo Jae-Seok who is known for his work on the popular show Muhan Dojeon무한도전 (Infinite Challenge) as well as the variety show Running Man among others.

The attractive girl Psy meets dancing in the subway is the lovely K-pop idol Hyun-A who is a former member of Wonder Girls and a current member of  4Minute and Trouble Maker. She is also a solo artist, Hyun-A‘s single “Bubble Pop” was pretty much on a loop all last year around Seoul so I knew her immediately from that lol!

The newest dance craze and Meme~ PSY Horse Gallop!

Everyone do the Gangnam style 말춤 Horse Dance!

PSYs dance in this video has really caught on here in Korea, it has been spotted at sports games, in clubs, even on the street when the song comes on you may catch a guy do a little gallop and laugh with his friends~ It is simple and fun so right now everyone is doing it for laughs it seems. This sort of dancing is called 막춤 mak-choom in Korea~ “Mak” means absolutely random with no purpose or intention and “Choom” is dance.

horse dance > photo bomb

Mak-choom usually refers to silly dances that imitate certain actions or animals, so in Gangnam style‘s case it is being on horse back galloping away.  The dance is appropriately called 말춤 or “horse dance” here in Korea. Shocking, yes I know.

PSY’s Surprise Gangnam Style Concert in Gangnam!

On Aug 14th PSY held a surprise concert at at the Gangnam 4-way street 강남 사거리… very fitting for his new single! Nara happened to come upon by accident  while he was out meeting his friend at Gangnam station, when they arrived they could not exit due to all the people~ it was a madhouse!  This photo he snapped from the cafe across the street shows that the crows extended all down the streets not even in proper view of the main concert, everyone wanted to go and the turnout was completely unexpected I am sure!

PSY has done concerts like this in the past at certain areas, but for this one even though they only announced it that morning apparently a shocking 30,000 people showed up!  It was completely packed with people and causes a total madhouse around the subway stations and the traffic was pretty much blocked off from all the crowds! Despite the rain, people stayed outside and it became a crazy giant massive cluster party of sorts, and when he finally played his hit single “Gangnam style” the whole crowd began to do his horse gallop!

Normally I would have raced out to try and catch it, but I was home having a slumber party with Nara’s young cousins and making cupcakes while we watched Avatar hehe so I could not leave that night.  If he has another public show like this I will be sure to attend though, I want to see the crowd horse dance (*_*)  Music trends boom here on and off all year (last year everyone was laughing at the song “Iteawon Freedom” ) but this is the largest scale one I have ever seen. People here really love PSY and seem to really support his success a lot, which is really great for him since he does not fit the typical star mold here at all.

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Due to his success with the international viewers of youtube, he was flown out to the USA a few times for “talks” and made a few appearances, hope this is the start of something great for him… or at least profitable.  Reports are saying he is set to make total about 10 million off of this success, with 10 CM deals signed as of this posting~  This is a huge amount for Korean pop stars!

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