Did Obama go 'Gangnam?'
December 10th, 2012
10:12 AM ET
5 years ago

Did Obama go 'Gangnam?'

(CNN) – Anyone hoping to see President Barack Obama launch into this year's dance fad will have to keep waiting.

When the commander-in-chief met Korean pop star PSY at Sunday's "Christmas in Washington" charity concert, the pair exchanged a handshake and a greeting – but not a boogie.

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PSY, who performed his hit "Gangnam Style" wearing festive red sequins, has been at the center of controversy this week after video surfaced of him spouting anti-American lyrics in 2004.

The lyrics of the song, titled "Dear America," were written by the South Korean rock band N.E.X.T., and PSY was one of three performers rapping out the lyrics on stage.

CNN was able to translate the lyrics as saying," Kill those f–ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives and those who ordered them to torture," and going on to say, "Kill them all slowly and painfully," as well as "daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers."

In an apology, PSY said his performance had been emotionally charged and was a response to events in the war in Iraq.

"I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world," he said in a statement.

He said the song "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 anti-war sentiment shared by others around the world at that time."

The girls were struck and killed by a U.S. military vehicle.

PSY continued: "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."

The concert Sunday also featured Motown legend Diana Ross and Broadway singer Megan Hilty. The event raised money for the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, and airs on CNN's sister station TNT Saturday, December 21 at 8 p.m. ET.

In short remarks at the end of the concert, Obama mentioned Ross, as well as the event's host Conan O'Brien, but did not refer to PSY by name. He said the concert was a "chance to get in the Christmas spirit; to spread some joy and sing along with artists who have much better voices than we do."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. sonny chapman

    Once you've slighted the Right, there is no forgiveness. Free Speech from Govt. reprisal is an American Virtue but don't expect the Right to actually practice said virtue, i.e., The Dixie Chicks.

    December 10, 2012 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  2. Data Driven

    Wow, this is so interesting!!!

    One presumes that newsworthy events will occur as the day wears on.

    December 10, 2012 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  3. Joi Gibson

    I doubt the President would do it, but I can see the First Lady giving it a go 🙂

    December 10, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  4. Sniffit

    Charity event story leads to myriad nasty posts on CNN Ticker. Story at 11.

    December 10, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    While I apprecaite the apology I must say huge faux pas on the part of the organizers.
    I would have NEVER given him more exposure, and certainly NOT on my stage if I were President.
    We all know that Dubya should be prosecuted for the Iraq war, but quite frankly, screw PSY.

    Additionally, love my President but he can't dance beyond a slow jam.

    December 10, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. nothing new here

    I really don't care if the President boogies or not....
    There are bigger issues in this country than Dancing with the Stars.

    December 10, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. John Williams

    We forgive you for only great song "Gangnam Style"

    December 10, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  8. nothing new here

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Additionally, love my President but he can't dance beyond a slow jam.
    The President boogies better than I do!!!!

    December 10, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  9. sonny chapman

    P.S.- has the Right "forgiven" France over Iraq ?

    December 10, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Sagebrush Shorty

    Apparently PSY and Jeremiah Wright have a lot in common.

    December 10, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    I'll admit that I don't think PSY was an appropriate guest for a Washington Christmas "sing a long" - his red sequins notwithstanding.

    December 10, 2012 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. ST

    Why some people like to stick on the past? What has gone, has gone, let it go. We can not change the past. We can change the present and the future.

    December 10, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. luvmykitty

    Obama – the new Jane Fonda. I guess PSY doesn't appreciate if it weren't for us he might have lived under Kim Jong Il rule.

    December 10, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  14. Ralph

    I feel shame that our President attended the concert and greeting the singer.

    December 10, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  15. dan

    my son is a soldier, I would never greet this man

    December 10, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  16. Anonymous

    @ sonny chapman

    "Once you've slighted the Right, there is no forgiveness. Free Speech from Govt. reprisal is an American Virtue but don't expect the Right to actually practice said virtue, i.e., The Dixie Chicks."

    This individual (PSY) advocated the killing of U.S. soldiers and their families. It is totally inappropriate for the President to be seen with him on the same stage. Yes, that does offend the "Right". Apparently the "Left" is OK with that.

    December 10, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  17. marita

    How very inappropriate of the Promoters to schedule this event, and for our President to attend this concert to listen to a group of people that spewed such Anti-American garbage in the past! what kind of message are we sending?

    December 10, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  18. Wango Tango Baby

    The bottom line is that Psy can say what he wants. BUT don't come to a country where you advocated killing Americans (regardless of whether they are military or not) and want love and fortune and fame. It's one thing to protest a policy (I don't agree with the wars, and I am a veteran), it's another to advocate murdering families based on your protest. Either way, he's is just this year's William Hung. He's a novelty and he'll realize soon enough.

    December 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  19. Mr. Moderate

    I just love it when people try to impose American feelings on people not from this country, thinking everyone should think as we do. Given the hateful lyrics in so many American rap "songs" (killing cops, abusing women) do we really have the right to criticize others? Also, there have been thousands of American troops stationed in South Korea for 60 years. If there were 100,000 British troops stationed in the USy for the past 60 years helping to protect us from Canada, I would think there would be a certain level anti-British sentiment among many in the country despite the close alliance and valuable purpose they serve.

    December 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  20. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Apparently the "Left" is OK with that."

    Apparently you've come here only to criticize and show the world just how clueless you are.

    December 10, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  21. lrich_9

    The Office of the President of the United States of America has never stooped so low, it's shameful that the President would be seen anywhere near this guy and I use the term "guy" very lightly because honestly I can't tell if it's a man or a woman just by looking at this Psy character.

    December 10, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  22. Karen

    The War on Women. Espousing torture and killing of women. Don't call a woman slut, but you can sing about torturing and killing them? This makes sense for democrats. The commander in chief shook hands with a man who wants to torture the daughters of soldiers who serve under him. Extremist being honored by TNT and nasty celebrities.

    December 10, 2012 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  23. plain&simple

    PSY.... convince leads to apology! Not a good choice to be at a presidential function. Someone should get an earful!!!

    December 10, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  24. Karen

    The left is okay with torturing daughters and killing wives. Wolfe Blitzer was in the audience. Tells you why he has 2 viewers.

    December 10, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  25. metro

    Why not? The democrats and the left HATE US Veterans more than Psy does.

    December 10, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
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