Controversy is rising over a government decision to give an order of cultural merit to singer Psy for his worldwide hit “Gangnam Style.”
Some agree with the idea, saying he has promoted Korea overseas; but others say he is unqualified for such an honor, adding the government is hopping on the Psy bandwagon.
Officials of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said Friday the government had decided to give the 35-year-old the Okgwan Order, a fourth grade among five-grade orders of cultural merit.
“We recognized his contribution to the development of the nation’s culture and art. With K-pop spreading across the world, his song has raised Korea’s national brand,” an official said.
The culture ministry and the Ministry of Public Administration and Security will soon finish reviewing his achievements, and if passed by Cabinet, they will give him the medal during the Korea Pop Culture and Art Awards on Nov. 19.
Earlier this month, Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik said during the National Assembly inspection of the government, “The popularity of Psy’s Gangnam Style is an unprecedented step in Korea’s pop culture industry. We are planning to award him.”
The cultural honor has not been widely given to pop singers. Singers who received the medals are those who have performed for at least 30 years, including Lee Mi-ja and Cho Yong-pil.
Citizens showed a mixed reaction.
“I agree to the medal idea. He is the first Korean who ranked second on the Billboard chart for five consecutive weeks. The Korean sensation made people around the world know about Korea with that one song,” a blogger “jumadeung” said.
“He achieved worldwide popularity not because he wanted it but because the world wanted him. He heightened the national prestige,” an Internet user “mojiri” said.
But some said he doesn’t deserve such a huge honor yet, saying his career spans just 12 years and his contribution to the nation’s cultural development is not that big.
“What he has done is great. But isn’t he too young to receive the order compared to other awardees, having only one megahit song? Moreover, he promoted Gangnam, not entire Korea,” a 26-year-old office worker, Park, said.
Many others were sarcastic in responding to the government.
“The government didn’t do anything for Psy. It only slapped harmful to youth rating to several of his songs previously. It now pretends that Psy’s success is the result of its hallyu promotion efforts ? which is not true. It is bandwagoning on Psy,” a 35-year-old banker said.
The government recently withdrew warnings it had issued on some of his songs.
“You (the government) have treated Psy’s music as something harmful, and now do you think he is praiseworthy because he has brought so much foreign money to the country? This is how Korea treats culture and art,” a tweeter said.
Another Twitter user said, “Psy needs neither the government, nor the medal. The government needs Psy. It should give the order to someone who really needs it.”