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Psy’s ‘Gentleman’ video praised, then banned

  • Psy performs “Gentleman” at an April 13 concert in Seoul.

SEOUL: “Gangnam Style” star Psy was praised by South Korea’s president and slammed by its state broadcaster all on the same day Thursday, as his new song “Gentleman” made more than just musical waves.

While President Park Geun-hye cited Psy’s “exemplary” respect for copyright principles, KBS television banned the “Gentleman” music video saying that it could encourage anti-social behavior.

A KBS statement suggested the offending sequences in the video, which has already clocked up 140 million views on YouTube, showed Psy jaywalking down an empty street and then kicking a traffic cone labelled “No Parking.”

KBS said the images might set a bad example to younger viewers and did not meet the standards set by the state broadcaster.

“We strictly forbid any material that might disturb basic public order,” the statement said.

The video ban came as Park favorably name-checked Psy during a meeting with policymakers in which she urged a “paradigm shift” from an economy based on manufacturing to one that embraced creativity.

“Growth led by a few big firms and the government are bound to be limited. ... We need a healthy ecosystem of creative entrepreneurs,” she said, citing late Apple founder Steve Jobs and Microsoft’s Bill Gates as examples.

Rampant piracy in IT and cultural products needs to be curbed to encourage more creation of software, she added, praising Psy for paying to borrow a dance move from another K-pop act for his “Gentleman” video.

The video features a hip-swinging dance originally performed in 2009 by popular girl band Brown Eyed Girls for their hit “Abracadabra.”

In order to incorporate the routine, Psy paid an unspecified fee to the team of choreographers who created it.

“This recognition of the value of other people’s creativity is a very exemplary case,” Park said.

The “Gentleman” video shows Psy, wearing his signature sunglasses, dancing at various locations in and around Seoul including a high-end clothing store, restaurant, swimming pool and a library.

The storyline features the singer teasing and playing practical jokes on women, such as pulling their chairs away as they are about to sit or untying a woman’s bikini top at a swimming pool.

It was the video of “Gangnam Style,” and in particular Psy’s signature horse-riding dance, that pushed him to global stardom last year after it was posted on YouTube and turned into a viral sensation.

A satire on the luxury lifestyle of Seoul’s upscale Gangnam district, it has become the most-watched YouTube video of all time, registering more than 1.5 billion views since it debuted last July. 

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 19, 2013, on page 13.
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