Monthly Archives: September 2012

More proof that Koreans are the coolest people in Asia

Possibly the planet, at this point.

Of course I’m talking about PSY and “Gangnam Style”, a little slice of dance-pop heaven that EO and I can’t get out of our heads.

You know PSY is taking off – primed for a backlash by now – because he was recently on The Ellen Degeneres Show. She brought him on to show Britney Spears how to do the gangnam dance. I loved PSY’s comment (approving of Britney’s Spears skyhigh heels) that the mindset is to: “Dress Classy, Dance Cheesy”.

Words to live by.

PSY turns the Asian nerd stereotype right on its gelled head. With a deep, you-could-almost-call-it-sexy voice. At first I thought of him as Quentin Tarantino if Tarantino could sing. But now I’m thinking he’s post-Tarantino, post-Beastie Boys, post-Ken Cheong in The Hangover.

Cool by virtue of his proud uncoolness. Cool by not copying. Cool in earnest.

That’s where the Koreans are succeeding, in pop, in movies, in literature. They take stock entertainment staples – starlet, boy band, horror movie – and run them through a freaky blender of insular, homegrown fantasies to create something entirely original and weirdly unknowable – to anyone outside of Korea I guess.

Take Super Junior, for example. Three years ago when I started this blog (has it been that long?), Super Junior came to Hong Kong, and I lamented the fact that SJ plus Dionne Warwick plus El Divo were the top pop concert offerings in our cosmopolitan backwater. (Asia’s world city, still my a**!)

But the boys stuck around. They’re the kings of K-pop all over Asia – Justin Timberlake x 12 – and their latest video, “Sexy, Free & Single” fascinates me.

It’s just a straight-ahead dance video crossed with a bit of catwalk posturing yet their faces! Their faces are strangely compelling. Creamy, smooth, glowing, with no hint of shadow or stubble. It’s beyond even Bieber-androgyny. It’s fearless beauty. As if the MGM backlot has come to life by way of Seoul.

We had faces!

One of these people…


…is Louise Brooks

Over the summer, PSY wrote and recorded a song in support of the Korean Olympic team. It’s an inspirational number, complete with hundreds of athletes, drummers, ladies in hanbok, a torch and PSY sporting awesome red, MC Hammer pants. As he strides through the temple arena, commanding his followers, he sings:

If you have taken out your sword
At least slice up some radish

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