Uh Oh: ‘Gangnam Style’ Star Allegedly Rapped About Killing American Soldiers

You’ve probably heard that Korean artist PSY’s ‘Gangnam Style’ recently became the most-watched YouTube video ever (we’re proud to say we still don’t get it). He may be a novelty act to Westerners, but he’s a big name now, and he’s scheduled to appear at a Washington, D.C. Christmas concert attended by the First Family next month.

As of today, though, he has some serious explaining to do.

American media outlets just caught on to a story, first noticed on a CNN site earlier this year and reported last week by South Korean magazine Haps, about PSY’s less appealing past: turns out he once (allegedly) covered a song with extremely inflammatory lyrics about killing American soldiers and their family members. This is a rough translation:

Kill those f–ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives
Kill those f–ing Yankees who ordered them to torture
Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers
Kill them all slowly and painfully

We can’t claim to completely understand the context of what will inevitably become a huge story, but there’s little doubt that PSY was involved in protests against the US military in the early aughts.

The vast majority of South Korean citizens disapproved of their country’s involvement in the Iraq war and had low opinions of Americans in general–related protests grew particularly virulent after the televised death of a Korean missionary at the hands of terrorists and a tragic incident in which two American soldiers in a tank killed two 13-year-old Korean girls (the US military deemed that case an accident while Koreans took to the streets demanding the defendants be tried in their own court system).

The most important aspect of this story, according to Haps, is that PSY allegedly performed the song in question (which was written by another Korean band) in an anti-war protest concert right after the missionary’s death in 2004. These reports have yet to be officially confirmed, but they’ve already upset quite a few Americans this afternoon: someone petitioned The White House encouraging President Obama to shun PSY and forbid him from performing at the Christmas concert.

According to a spokesman, the president still plans to attend the show—but we have a feeling the newly minted K-rap star might encounter some protesters of his own that day.

Before we all pile on PSY as an America-hater, we should consider the fact that he studied at Berklee in Boston and that he didn’t write the song that he supposedly performed. We don’t quite know what to make of this bewildering story, but do know one thing: PSY’s management needs to perform some damage control—and fast.

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.