Max Fisher for The Atlantic:
Gangnam is a tony Seoul neighborhood, and Park’s “Gangnam Style” video lampoons its self-importance and ostentatious wealth, with Psy playing a clownish caricature of a Gangnam man. That alone makes it practically operatic compared to most K-Pop. But I spoke with two regular observers of Korean culture to find out what I was missing, and it turns out that the video is rich with subtle references that, along with the song itself, suggest a subtext with a surprisingly subversive message about class and wealth in contemporary South Korean society. That message would be awfully mild by American standards — this is no “Born in the U.S.A.” — but South Korea is a very different place, and it’s a big deal that even this gentle social satire is breaking records on Korean pop charts long dominated by cotton candy.
My gut reaction to this piece was that perhaps it was a bit of overanalysis of a funny music video.
It’s difficult to imagine that much of this could be apparent to non-Koreans, which [Jea] Kim told me is why she decided to write it up on her blog. “I thought people outside Korea might take it just as another funny music video. So I wanted to explain what’s behind [it] and the song.”
Oh. Well then.
Check the piece.