Every so often, American music fans swoon for a foreign-language pop song that seems to come out of nowhere. But there was more to “Gangnam Style” than its catchy chorus or South Korean performer PSY’s goofy dance moves. It was also a reminder that as East Asia’s economic prominence increases, so too will its cultural might. As Samsung smartphones proliferate in pants pockets around the globe, and Hyundai cars multiply on the highways, South Korea’s growing prosperity is said to be most evident in Gangnam, a wealthy neighborhood in Seoul. And a certain lavish, ostentatious attitude has come to be called Gangnam style. PSY, a onetime music student in Boston, insisted in a Reddit discussion that his song is “just FUN!” Yet others hear it as a satire of South Korea’s 1-percenters. “Gangnam Style” is just a fad. But if South Korea keeps growing, there’s more Gangnam style to come.
— DANTE RAMOS