Born Park Jae-sang, the 34 year-old rapper went to college in the States during late nineties, reports The Washington Post, but didn't graduate. Instead, he returned to his native South Korea and launched his recording career.
Before PSY hit it big internationally this year, he was an outspoken critic of American foreign policy. In 2002, a military vehicle hit two Korean schoolgirls, causing national outrage. There were protests against not only the US military, but the whole US, with some business putting up signs reading, "Americans are not welcome here." At that time, sixty percent of Koreans (70 percent of those under 25) did not have a good impression of the U.S. (Website ROK Drop has an in depth look at the incident.)
After the incident, PSY smashed a model of an American military vehicle at a live concert. That was followed by anti-American chants.
Fast forward to 2004, when the rapper once again protested against the American military after a Korean Christian missionary named Kim Sun-il was captured and beheaded in Iraq, with the extremist captors blaming the United States. PSY performed a song called "Dear American" alongside by Korean metal band N.EX.T. The lyrics PSY delivered were apparently as follows:
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.
Online, some are calling PSY an opportunist, willing to take advantage of anti-Americanism when it suited him—and then willing to take of American popularity when it, once again, was conducive.
Via WSJ, PSY has released a statement, regarding the controversy:
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 I featured on 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 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 that 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 thru music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.
There will be some that do accept his apology, scratching this up to the passage of time. Some might agree with his criticism. Others won't. They won't accept his apology, and they'll look at this as more opportunism. Then a vocal few will use this as their own opportunity to push their own agenda, such as bashing PSY, or worse, his fellow Koreans.
Or even the President. Or Conan O'Brien. (You gotta watch out for that Conan O'Brien!)
"If it's gonna hurt my career or not, that's not important," PSY told The Washington Post. "The most important thing is that as a human being, I really, fully regret the use of [those] kinds of words."
PSY's Anti-America Protesting [Busan Haps]
PSY's Anti-American Past Uncovered [ROK Drop]
A penitent Psy brings ‘Gangnam Style' to Washington [Washington Post]