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Psy's “Gangnam Style” Taking the World by Storm
Garnering related videos with more than 1.3 billion views, the music video is boosting the Korean brand and grabbing the media spotlight around the world, leading to an eagerness to visit Gangnam and dress “Gangnam Style”
Psy's “Gangnam Style” Taking the World by Storm
  • By matthew
  • November 7, 2012, 10:16
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Psy’s “Gangnam Style” video has become a world-wide hit. Since its release on July 15 on YouTube, the video had been seen more than 100 million times as of September 4, and on September 15, topped the iTunes chart.

As of October 8, 1 pm, the original video clocked 403.41 million views, and related videos 950 million views, which add up to a whopping over 1.35 billion views. Also, as of October 9, the video arrived at 8th place on the list of most-watched YouTube videos of all time by garnering 462.2 million views

After debuting at No. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 13, the song attracted the world’s attention after jumping to second place in just two weeks. It remained at No. 2 on the chart announced October 11, its third week in a row there. Maroon 5’s “One More Night” ruled the chart for the fourth consecutive week.

On October 12 (Korea time), Billboard magazine ran an article titled, “Taylor, Rihanna & PSy Get Chart Boost” unveiling changes to chart methodology. Billboard said, “We revamped genre charts and added streaming and downloads to the methodology. The immediate beneficiaries of the week’s methodology change are Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Psy.” Psy also proved his popularity by topping the Rap Songs tally.

“Gangnam Style” Registered with Wikipedia

“Gangnam Style” was registered with Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia, indicating that the song has become a global cultural phenomenon.

According to the encyclopedia, whose network spans across the world, Korean rapper Psy’s Gangnam Style is capturing the world’s attention, with its music video viewed over 400 million times on YouTube since its release in July.

The encyclopedia offers an in-depth analysis of the current craze for the song, as well as its cultural shock, response from academia, and the role of social media, and updates regarding chart performance and a dozen pages of introductive and other material.

According to Wikipedia, the song has hit the top spots in music charts in 23 countries around the world; including the UK, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Poland, Honduras and Israel. The music video has also spawned parodies from all over the world – not only from cheerleaders at the University of Oregon and the US Naval Academy, but also in The Philippines, Thailand, Jerusalem and Portugal. In addition, many flash mob events have been held throughout the world, with a parody even being uploaded from North Korea.

The encyclopedia says that the music video has drawn keen attention from the academic field because the video was produced in Korea, once considered a fringe culture, and has touched the world’s heart, overcoming continental, racial, language and cultural boundaries. Furthermore, Wikipedia said that experts from around the world, including those teaching at prestigious MBA institutes such as Harvard and Wharton, are providing multi-faceted analysis of the song’s key success factors and its implications.

They attribute the song’s success to a catchy beat and Psy’s amusing dance moves, which have helped overcome language barriers and made the song a worldwide hit. They say its popularity is growing as social networks are increasingly being inundated with parodies.

Psy’s chart-topping performance in the West is seen as invasion by Asian pop, which has long remained non-mainstream. The song’s phenomenal success is attributable in part to the universal language of humor, combined with the power of social networking sites and parodies that encourage the song's spread..

The President of the Korean Wave Research Institute (KWRI) Han Koo-hyun said, “If Psy’s Gangnam Style topped both the UK and the US charts, and won a Grammy, that would send shock waves through the entire pop music world.” He added, “Though numerous musicians have made such achievements, what Psy achieved on YouTube is the first "cultural shock” the world has ever seen.”

It “Boosts South Korean Brand"

With the whole world going crazy over “Gangnam Style,” it began to capture the attention of international media networks. They published a series of articles claiming that Korea has firmly established itself in the fields of economy and culture among major Asian powers.

The Financial Times reported on October 9 (Korea time) that Gangnam Style has boosted the South Korean brand. The newspaper said that Korean culture is expanding its global footprint in a wide range of areas -- from music (Girls’ Generation) and movies (Director Kim Ki-duk’s Pieta) to novels (Shin Kyung-sook’s “Please Look After Mom) -- adding that the incumbent administration immediately established the Presidential Council of National Branding with the aim of boosting the nation’s soft power. Korean firms, departing from the past, are trying to create an attractive image, and as a result, companies such as Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor are achieving huge success on the global stage.

The Huffington Post likened Gangnam Style to Tintin, an iconic European cartoon character created in Belgium, and said Korea bears some resemblance to Belgium in that the country is affluent and maintains a balance of power without being aggressive, doing this despite being surrounded by global powers. The paper said "Gangnam Style is one more sign of the profound shift in global gravity created by a rising Asia.” It went on to add, “As Asia increasingly comes to dominate the world economically, its tastes and fashions will dominate world culture.”

British newspaper The Telegraph said “Gangnam Style” has led to a fad for South Korean pop music, and picked Big Bang, movies directed by Park Chan-wook, and Kimchi as other aspects of K-culture that readers should try.

Psy’s phenomenal success has also prompted a frenzy of media analysis. Some view it as a unique B-grade sentiment, while others say its content which is full of character are the secret to its success. Others expect a new round of the Korean wave in coming years, one that will be different from the current K-pop craze. Furthermore, there have been in-depth reports heralding a new hero, taking a close look at the singer’s growth and style.

Americans “Want to Visit Gangnam”

In a survey conducted on October 10 by the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) involving 200 ordinary citizens living in New York and Los Angeles – 100 for each city – results showed that 90 percent of respondents said they have heard Psy’s Gangnam Style. Of these, 60 percent said they wanted to visit Gangnam.

Je Sang-won, head of the Korean Wave Tourism Team at KTO, said, “The song’s mega success is a historic feat for K-pop; becoming fodder for Korean brands seeking to expand into the US market.

The Wall Street Journal introduced five must-see places in Gangnam, at which foreigners can enjoy Gangnam Style, in a weekend feature story entitled, “Where to Find Your Gangnam Style” on October 12.

Having dominated the Chinese chart, Gangnam Style also captures the heart of Chinese tourists

Psy’s record label YG Entertainment said on October 11 that “Psy’s "Gangnam Style” hit the top spot on the daily top 500 music chart operated by China’s largest portal Baidu. This is the first time a Korean singer has topped the chart.”

In fact, search volume on Baidu and download numbers are factored into the 500-rankings. A Korean singer hitting the No. 1 spot is an unprecedented feat. Psy also did remarkably well on other charts, advancing to No. 2 on Baidu’s new song top 100 chart, and No. 9 on the top 200 real-time search rankings.

Parodies of the amusing horse-riding dance moves featured in the video are also attracting a lot of viewers. On China’s flagship video-streaming site, Youku, not only Psy’s original video but also some 8,000 parodies, have been posted. State-run media organizations such as CCTV have taken an in-depth look at the phenomenal success Psy has achieved, adding to his popularity on the mainland.

Such a huge success on the mainland is especially significant given that it is driven by mere virality and the online video-streaming site YouTube, instead of massive promotional activities.

The song’s mega-hit has led to a surge in Chinese tourists visiting Korea. The KTO estimates that 100,000 Chinese tourists visited Korea during their National Foundation Day holiday, which began September 29. This is the highest number ever recorded.

What’s especially noteworthy this year is that they are more eager than ever to visit Gangnam, which is directly attributable to the Korean rapper hit. Lee Hyang-seon, a concierge at Hyundai Department Store’s Apgujung branch said, “The most common inquiries I receive from Chinese tourists are ‘What is Gangnam Style?’ ‘How should I dress Gangnam Style?”

On October 1, the department store’s Apgujung branch saw its sales of unique imported menswear brands, such as Zadig&Voltaire and Thome Browne, jump 48% from last year. On the same day, Lotte Duty Free Shop reported that its daily sales in Jamsil and Coex were 2.8 times and 3.2 times higher than usual, respectively. Wang Lee, a 31-year-old Chinese tourist who bought 10 million won worth of products, including Korean Red Zinseng and Sulhwasoo Cosmetics, said, “It's better to shop here than in Myeong-dong because it’s less crowded.”