Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Gangnam Style-Harlem Shake Dance Off at the Presidential Inauguration?

With Korean citizens celebrating the 'Burning of the Lee House' today after the President's residence was dramatically raided by prosecutors yesterday evening, preparations are underway for the inauguration of the Saenuri Party's 61-year-old Park Geun-hye tomorrow, which will include a performance by global superstar, 35-year-old Psy, of "Gangnam Style" fame.

A spokesman for the organizers said that by not inviting high-profile foreign and domestic dignitaries – apart from Psy – they want to snub foreign diplomats and governments in order to "center the ceremony on ordinary people, and Psy – especially Psy". But they admitted they couldn't stop foreign leaders attending if they wanted to, raising fears of the potential for an assassination attempt by Japanese ninja leader, Shinzo Abe.

Despite the desire to focus the Park's crowning event on ordinary upper-middle class people rather than the famous, it is thought that the opportunity to have superstar Psy perform was too great a temptation to pass given that Park has indicated an intention to make her time in office a 'Gangnam presidency', featuring the haves, and the have-mores, and where nobody is really poor in Korea – at least nobody worth speaking of – a fact that Psy's 'Gangnam Style' song and accompanying video ultimately celebrated.

Some 30,000 guests have been selected to attend from among the 'general public' – the name given to the supporters of Park Geun-hye's father, the popular dictator General President Park Chung-hee, who successfully ran for office under the Military Party, holding power from 1963 until his assassination by the head of the Korean CIA in 1979. While fears were raised that some poor people who applied for tickets via the website might ultimately infiltrate the guest-list tomorrow given the large numbers of tickets available, organizers are confident that only those rich and powerful enough to take a day off will actually be able to come.

In a sign that South Korea is becoming more tolerant on the question of sexual orientation Park has become Korea's first openly female president, but while her potential bias towards women was not touched upon during the election, she was still widely criticized for her robotic delivery while campaigning for Saenuri – the spiritual successor of the Military Party. Nevertheless, organizers have denied that without Psy's presence the mood would have become too somber, saying that the President-elect hasn't announced all her plans yet.

Inviting Psy was seen as a brave move for South Korea's Park, given that in September the North Korean government used a parody of "Gangnam Style" called "I'm Yushin style!" to mock Park and her conservative Saenuri Party. The 'Yushin syle!' video shows a Photoshopped image of Park doing the Gangnam Style horse-dance while labeling her as a devoted admirer of the Yushin system of autocratic government set up by her father, as though that was a bad thing. By raising Park Geun-hye's autocratic heritage, political analysts in the South believe Pyongyang helped Park get elected by reminding an older generation of voters how good they had it under the authoritarian government that transitioned South Korea from a devastated war-torn country to the envy of the known world.

Ironically while Park ascends to the throne tomorrow, there are worrying signs that Psy's star may be fading. A new Internet meme called the 'Harlem Shake' is now sweeping the world, dashing hopes that 'Gangnam Style' would continue to educate non-Koreans about the importance of Korean culture. And while Psy is still expected to perform 'Gangnam Style' tomorrow, it has been revealed that the event may turn into a Gangnam Style-Harlem Shake dance off, with the news that Seth Andrew – the successful Harlem schools chief – is also planning to attend.

If Mr. Andrew wins the dance off, Park Geun-hye's inauguration may be remembered as the beginning of the end of the Korean Wave, which has turned billions of people into followers of Korean culture.

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