Following a flood of backlash Friday morning after reports surfaced of South Korean pop star PSY allegedly spewing anti-U.S. statements during protest concerts in 2002 and 2004, the singer has responded with a statement.
It reads: “As a proud South Korean who was educated in the United States and lived there for a very significant part of my life, I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world. The song I was featured in — eight years ago — 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 antiwar sentiment shared by others around the world at that time. 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.
“I have been honored to perform in front of American soldiers in recent months — including an appearance on the Jay Leno show specifically for them — and I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology,” he continues. “While it’s important that we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music, I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that thru music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity, and I hope that you will accept my apology.”
Mediaite first reported of the 2002 event, which was organized as a protest to 37,000 U.S. troops stationed on the Korean Peninsula. PSY took to the stage in gold face paint and a glittery red outfit, then lifted a model U.S. tank over his head before smashing it to pieces on the ground. The performance was a response to the deaths of two South Korean schoolgirls, who were killed in an accident with an American military vehicle, according to Korean website BusanHaps.com.
Two years later, a South Korean missionary was executed in Iraq — a revenge killing for the country’s support of the U.S. war in Iraq. During a separate protest concert that year, PSY was quoted as rapping in the song “Dear American”: “Kill those f—ing Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives/Kill those f—ing Yankees who ordered them to torture/Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers/Kill them all slowly and painfully.”
A source close to PSY, whose “Gangnam Style” has become a worldwide hit, netting the singer more than $8 million, says the reported translation distorted what was actually an antiwar statement rather than anything U.S.-specific.