Psy Comes From the Past with Song About Suicide

Psy is gaining viral status on a video released almost 3 years ago. However this seemingly campy song, challenging the spectacle of Gangnam, actually alludes to something more profound. “Right Now” is similar to “Gangnam Style” in its tongue-in-cheek nature presented in its visuals, a rage against the machine style video where bored commuters stuck in traffic let loose with Psy.

Yet the English lyric translation provides a very powerful message to those who do not speak Korean (there is also a provocative lady dance throughout, if that helps).

This version spends more time on the mundane office workers, students, and tired grocery store shoppers and lacks the counter culture skater and break dancing youth of Psy’s version.

The lyrics discuss the pointlessness of ending life, the need to “turn around” and live in the moment, jumping up to the top of a building rather than down it. It undeniably conjures up thoughts about suicide and the fact that South Korea has the second highest rate of suicide in the world and the first amongst developed nations.In 2010, when this video was released, it was released that suicide was the 4th largest cause of death, and the first largest for South Koreans under the age of 40.

The feeling of the song seems antagonistic. Psy says “…you make me laugh, what are you doing?…I’m not going to surrender…my heart beats…” The people depicted in the video are young students, office workers, people outside mainstream culture, and Psy as the Korean starlet, groups well known for suicide within Korea. Yet, it also has a message of embracing your difference, of being who you are and letting loose. The loss of translation may make it difficult to know what Psy means without discussing it with a native speaker.

Now, this translation was done by someone else, and it could be inaccurate, but here it provides another cynical view of Korean through the Kpop lens, as provided by Psy.

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One thought on “Psy Comes From the Past with Song About Suicide

  1. Pingback: The “Beondegi” Challenge « From Korea with Love

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