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. cheapseats2

    If he had been singing about k i l l i n g g a y s, he would have never been anywhere near the Obama's celebration, regardless of apologies.

    December 10, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. Person of Interest

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

    Funny, last time I checked the people keeping the Veterans Job Act in committee were Republicans. Another funny note, John McCain didn't even vote for the Post 9-11 GI Bill. Which is hilarious considering he got paid to go in Annapolis, but some poor grunt should only get $1200 bucks a month to go to a comparable school that costs $40,000 a year. I guess it's ok for officers to get the perks but an E5 that deployed 6 times shouldn't be able to get as good an education as him.

    Polticians sing our praises on television, but they will screw over a veteran every chance they get a chance. REGARDLESS of political affliation.

    December 10, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  3. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The Real Tom Paine

    Lets see...the right wing media can say whatevever they want, no matter how offensive, and only apologize when their sponsors threaten to pull the rug out from under them. That's always ok. PSY is what Rush Limbaugh claims to be, an entertainer: picking him for this even shows bad judgement on the part of the event organizers, nothing more. Unlike Limbaugh, PSY's apology may actually be sincere, so that is the significant takeaway from this so-called story.
    Well put Tom.

    December 10, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  4. Barbara


    December 10, 2012 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  5. manny

    Poor judgement on obamas part!! they should gave dropped that idiot psy!! Send him back home slap a wig and lipstick on him and give him to north korea!! Ganghim style!!lol

    December 10, 2012 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. TheTraveler

    Who cares? Move on, move on ...

    December 10, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Ferret out the BS

    Why is Psy any different from Mitt, anybody can change and regret what they said or did in the past. At least Psy apologized for it. Haven't seen any apologizing from GW, Chaney, Rumsfeld, or Skooter much less Mitt for lying ,cheating, torturing, outing CIA agents etc, etc.............

    December 10, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  8. Lynda/Minnesota

    Dominican mama 4 Obama

    I tried to post a comment about Limbaugh's anti-Barack ditty and some of the anti-Obama signs we saw all through 2010 depicting President Obama as ... well, I can't mention that. We didn't hear too many right wingers crying "awful" and "foul", did we? So, I washed my comment down and GOPers still want to argue their "I'm in the right - your in the wrong" points. Whatever. CNN got what it wanted by posting the article.

    December 10, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  9. show some love

    The message is this , show some love. the president is doing what the lord say's we must do forgive other's . remember yea without sin cast the first stone. yes it was a nasty hurtful thing to put you foot , so far in your mouth and we pray he doesn't ever do it again. how about supporting the vet when they come home. by giving some donation from your performances that the spirit of christmas.

    December 10, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  10. Buckaroo Banzai

    A waste of studio time.. people no longer know what quality music is.

    December 10, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  11. Galactus93

    We need a Federal Government that will enforce immigration laws. This should never have happened if the US border was secure and the Federal Government was doing its job. Immigration reform should require the deportation of all illegal aliens, and mandatory E-Verify to fire all the illegal aliens now working so that American citizens can be hired. We tried Amnesty in 1986 for 3 million illegal aliens and now we have over 11 million illegals living in the US. Amnesty for the existing illegal aliens will not fix the problem. We need enforcement. Deport all illegal aliens, secure the border and fine anyone who hires an illegal alien That is the law It just needs to be enforced.

    December 10, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    I like how everyone takes the time to hate or reward this guys quotes but yet they still play the dorks song on the radio. if you want to hurt him its so simple. dont play his song. let him fade away.

    December 10, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  13. GG

    Is anyone shocked to see Obama posing with yet another anti-american celebrity? Or is it Gangnam who is the one posing with an anti-american celebrity?

    December 10, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  14. eric

    Half the country held the same sentiment not to mention the rest of the world at the time.

    December 10, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  15. Susan

    Hooray!!! Another chance to criticize Obama for something trivial and fabricated. It must be Christmas at Fox News.

    December 10, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  16. Wilson

    "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." -Benjamin Franklin
    And there we are.

    December 10, 2012 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. W.

    It is remarkable when in the course of human events we can lower our highest office to the level of "American Idol: video vomit." This is a poor example of time misspent when pressing matters of considerable magnitude must be addressed with great dispatch. Let the children play with the clown and allow the President to attend to our country's business. It's a real job.

    December 10, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  18. HistoryGeek

    A lot of entertainers have said things that they apologized for later. Remember Queen Latifa and Kill Whitey? On the conservative side of the world... what about Ted Nugent? During the Vietnam war he was very anti military and even bragged about soiling his pants to avoid the draft. yet today he's a Republican hero.

    December 10, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  19. Steve

    What if PSY had rapped about killing gays or blacks? That would have been bad huh? But rap about killing US servicemenbers thats ok because liberals hate them anyway.

    December 10, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Thomas asked:

    What ever happened to the Dixie Chicks ?
    After being excommunicated by the right, they've joined the left and are on their way to making a full recovery from Romnesia, Trickle-itis, and the the lingering effects of false prophets.

    December 10, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  21. epluribus

    Utterly disgraceful. Our president shaking the hand of someone who sang kill the americans kill their mothers , kill their wives. How shameful.

    December 10, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  22. larry from d block

    afterall an America (Mitt) said screw 47%...so we all can forgive Psy.

    December 10, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  23. Lisa P.


    What if PSY had rapped about killing gays or blacks? That would have been bad huh? But rap about killing US servicemenbers thats ok because liberals hate them anyway.
    December 10, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm
    You conveniently forget that the part about torturing Iraqi prisoners was true. Back when the clowns ran the circus there was plenty for the world to be outraged - and, yes, angry - about. Suppose the South Korean military or a diplomat ran down two American school kids here and got away with it? Do you suppose you would be writing polite letters to the editor suggesting we should get some perspective and look at it from the South Korean point of view? No way! You'd be joining the Faux News amped up cry of outrage, just like you're doing now. And, notably, failed and fail to do when the shoe is on the other foot and America acts in a shameful or imperious manner. And by that I do *not* mean our President shaking hand with a pop star du jour performing at an event to raise money for charity, or sending out a holiday card with a picture of his dog playing in the snow.

    December 10, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Fat ninja

    People are so trivial. Psy also made a song for the South Korean olympic team in 2004, obviously it means he hates American athletes, right?! How many country songs have been blared encouraging the death of American citizens? Anyone calling someone a raghead or a Muslim. Never heard Hank Williams Keith, or Toby Chesney or whatever apologize. He made an emotional judgement and has apologized now. Like someone said earlier, just a hateful xmas gift for Fox.

    December 10, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  25. Allen

    Rightists believe freedom of speech in music was best expressed by the music group. "sons of the pioneers ."

    December 10, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
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