Oppa”-tunity Knocks: Psy, Gangnam Style and the Critical Reception of K-Pop in Britain

Basil Glynn, Jeongmee Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on an examination of over 500 British newspaper reports, this article contends that a range of culturally-biased interpretations have frequently been incorporated in PSY’s critical reception in Britain that have served to present him as a bizarre novelty act or central character of an internet meme as opposed to a globally famous pop star - and long established Korean pop star. Consequently, the contemporary Korean context of PSY’s phenomenally successful song and video has been largely overlooked. Rather than casting a new light on Korea, previously held negative assumptions about Korea have also often featured in these press reports. Yet despite this, the song itself has still managed to benefit Korea’s popular image overseas. Indicative of the song and video’s complex cultural representation and partisan reception, ‘Gangnam Style’ has—paradoxically—been ripe for exploitation by the Korean Tourism Association (KTO). Because of the failure to engage with the ‘Korean context’ of the song by sectors of the foreign press, the KTO has been largely free to revise the ‘Korean context’ of ‘Gangnam Style’ away from its initial criticism of the lifestyle it represents into a more profitable recommendation of it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
JournalSituations: Cultural Studies in the East Asian Context
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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