C’mon. If you’re going to own it, own it. The background:
[I]n 2004, a Korean missionary was captured in Iraq by Islamists who demanded that South Korea not send troops to aid America in the war in Iraq. Seoul refused to negotiate and the missionary was beheaded. The result: massive protests throughout Korea against both Muslim extremism and the U.S. military for indirectly bringing this fate upon a Korean missionary.
As part of the protests, PSY and several other popular Korean musicians put on a live performance of a Korean rock band’s song “Dear American.” When PSY’s turn came, he rapped:
Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those fucking Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully
According to MTV, the word he used at the time was “bitches,” not “Yankees,” but the intent was clear enough. Today, having earned untold riches in part by penetrating the lucrative bitch/Yankee media market, he’s sorry. Kind of:
“As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world.”
“The song in question – from eight years ago – was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls that was part of the overall antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused anyone by those words.”
“I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months – including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them – and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology. While it’s important we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that though music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”
He did indeed perform for the troops on Leno’s Thanksgiving show; skip to 3:25 of the first clip below and watch him do the horse dance with full military backing. That looks twice as surreal today as it did then and it looked darned surreal at the time, but his PR team will use it to full effect to buy him some forgiveness with the public. He’ll get leeway too from the fact that he is, after all, the goofy horse-dance guy. A musician known for more introspective work would be held to full account for his political opinions but this is a bit like finding out that LMFAO thinks 9/11 is an inside job. (They don’t. I’m speaking hypothetically.) Between that and the fact that he apologized, sort of, for how the song “could be interpreted,” Obama’s spokesman felt safe enough to say this afternoon that O still plans on attending the upcoming TNT benefit concert at which Psy is scheduled to perform. Fearless prediction: That’ll change if people are still talking about this on Monday, not so much in terms of POTUS’s attendance as Psy’s.
Two clips for you here, one the Leno bit and the other (from 2002) a little taste of what South Korean pop culture can look like when it’s going through one of its periodic bouts of anti-Americanism. Content warning.