What Writers and Poets Can Learn from Gangnam Style


Are you familiar with the guy? Well, of course you know him. He’s the guy who taught Britney Spears how to dance the internationally famous ‘Gangnam Style’ in Ellen De Generes Show.

Yes, he’s Park-Jae Sang, notably known as Psy. He’s the singer whose video has just recently broken the Guinness Book World of Records as the ‘Most Liked’ video on Youtube, going viral with more than 340 million viewers as of 2/10/2012. So that’s about 12 million views per day, the most in history ever recorded. Insane, huh?

OK. His music might not be the kind of music that many of us, authors and poets, are interested in listening to. I’ve heard people, some with strong literary propensity, commenting that his music is ‘reasonably tasteless’, ‘peculiarly absurd’, or ‘ridiculously dumb’. But hey, forget about it. Just like we don’t want to be judged on the basis of the color of our skin, the language we speak, our religious views and sexual orientation, or other superficial labels, we have no right to judge his taste for music as well as others who adore him, right?

Besides, we actually can learn a lot from this guy, whatever our music propensity is. Did you know that he spent about 2 years to produce the 4 minute video? He was on the verge of bankruptcy when his wife encouraged him to switch entertainment agency two years ago, and then he came up with the idea of the song, wrote the lyrics, worked on the rhythm, and choreographed the video; all these took approximately 2 years.

Wait a minute, two years for a 4 minute video? That’s right. Can you imagine the amount of effort that he put into a music video that lasts only four minutes? Surely the man has both passion and patience!

Music and writing are both art with two different mediums, but apply the same general principles. The creation of a brilliant work doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long time, because it requires constant refinement of ideas to develop.

Now you must be wondering how long it took for Mozart to compose ‘Turkish March’, or for Kahlil Gibran to write ‘The Prophet’, or for Leo Tolstoy to write ‘Anna Karenina‘, or for Jean-Paul Sartre to write ‘The Age of Reason‘. Apparently not 3 months or so.

In ‘Chinese Bamboo and Paulo Coelho’, I wrote about the importance of having passion and patience in creative writing, about how important it is to firstly develop our characters and embark on “an arduous journey of ceaseless personal growth to overcome adversity and challenge” before expecting success in our creative writing career.

And now the pattern has become obvious: “We may invest weeks, months, or even years, without any visible signs of progress, and then all of a sudden, things take off. Our dreams come true. Toiling patiently towards dreams and goals while by the same token building strong characters are the only ways to reach success.”

Enough with the ramble. Now, ready for some Gangnam Style?

#I would like to thank my Korean student, Son Ahreum, who introduced me to  Psy’s music so I could learn something from him.

46 thoughts on “What Writers and Poets Can Learn from Gangnam Style

  1. This is a modern topic I do not know. Yes I live on Planet Earth. Like that you described his journey. Took his time. Rather like athletes who train for hours for a 2 or 4 minute performance on ice, water, field. This post is great reminder to craft rather than produce. I enjoy your writing. Take care.

    • That is right, crafting is more important than producing. Thank you for your kind words. I hope life has been kind to you. Many blessings and much love to you. :-)

      Subhan Zein

  2. Hi Subhan

    Sometimes I think we live in different worlds, divided by all sorts of variables, that make us stick to our own tribes. Age is of course one of these variables that cuts us off from each other. I have never heard of Psy, have rarely visited You Tube, and, having watched the video, can only wonder at what causes this one to go viral with 340 million views, whilst another languishes in the doldrums.

    There is no accounting for taste!!

    However, I can appreciate the energy, and more importantly I can appreciate the “passion and the patience” that Psy exhibited in the making of his masterpiece. As you say, we can learn much from him.

    I want to do a piece at soulsnet on a similar theme and would like to link to you and the story of Psy. I have a feeling, although I might be wrong, that many of my readers will never have heard of him either, but his story is inspirational and that’s what I want to share at soulsnet.

    Have a good day.

    Corinne at soulsnet

    • That sounds like a great thing, Corinne. Yeah, please do. You are totally right. It must be great!

      Thank you very much for commenting. I am looking forward to reading your posts. Many blessings and much love to you. :-)

      Suban Zein

  3. I must admit I have not seen this before…and while this style may not suit everyone – there is a playful humor that is quite entertaining and just plain darn happy.

    I agree with other comments – learning something new everyday keeps us healthy. I have a story I am working on that I honestly do not know when I will finish because I am using weekly word lists for its inspiration and evolution. You can visit what I have so far in a more sensible rather than dated written order here:


    A bit different from my short verse. Fantasy is something you can play with. Some pieces have humor and others are more serious. But it is a unique style to write this continuing story in verse. Well at least I think so. :)

    Be well my friend and I hope to visit with more regularity.

    • Thank you, Jules. I am going to read your post. Many blessings and much love to you. :-)

      Subhan Zein

    • Hi Elisa,

      I know, Psy is inspirational! He’s very passionate and has bold character too, I learn a lot from him. I am glad that you loved the video, hope you have a blast! :-)

      Subhan Zein

    • That’s okay, Ranu. Now that you know him, I hope you will have fun listening to the song. Have a wonderful day, Ranu, and have a blast! :-)

      Subhan Zein

    • Hi Gongjumonica,

      Thank you very much. A Korean student of mine recommended the video when we had a class party. It was so much fun that everyone started dancing, You love anything related to Korea, so you must be enjoying this very much. Been dancing a lot? haha :-)

      Subhan Zein

      • Oh, so I take it you are an ESL teacher to Koreans? That sounds wonderful! I have been trying to teach my friends in gratis, and I feel good whenever I see developments in their language skills. Hmm I like anything Korean, but my two left feet can’t adjust to the dancing part. Haha!

      • Yes, I am. Some of my students are Koreans. I have a lot of former students from South Korea: Kangnam University, Chongbuk Univ., Seoul Univ., and others. They are wonderful people. When it comes to dancing, I guess I am not very good as well, but sometimes you just gotta give it a go, right?
        Or maybe you’ll get better when you eat some Kimchi while listening to Psy? Haha

        Subhan Zein

      • Yeah, I agree most of them are really good people. I have lots of friends both living here in my country and in Korea. I usually hang out with them every week.

        As for dancing, kimchi won’t make me. I guess a trip to a traditional Korean restaurant with unlimited 삼겹살 and heart-shaped 언양불고기 will do. ^^

      • Oops. Sorry! I don’t use romanized Korean because there are many variations. However, the first one is samgyeopsal (grilled pork belly) and unyang bulgogi (grilled beef meat)

  4. Pingback: What writers and poets can learn from ‘Gangnam Style’ « Kimchi, One Day at a Time

  5. Wow…He is really famous all the world! even you do posting on the your blog!
    I’m very proud his success as a Korean.

    • Hi Gerard,

      Thank you very much. Yes, of course. We love him! When my book is published, I would love to give him a copy of my book, and you will need to give it directly to him. Hehe. Wish me luck and I wish you the best of luck with your studies and life in Korea, Gerard.. :-)

      Subhan Zein

    • Hi Deb,

      Thank you very much for your kind words. You are one generous soul. I hope my other writings are not too disappointing. And now that you’re in Korea, have a lot of KimChi and Son Du Bu Je Gae, while listening to Psy. Haha, you’ll have a blast! :-)

      Thank you, again, many blessings and much love to you, Deb. :-)

      Subhan Zein

  6. Thanks for sharing, Subhan. I first saw (an edited version of) this video on our school’s Channel One News. The story? 14 lifeguards in a California town were fired after they produced a video using this music. The city was upset they used city equipment and time.
    That’s unfortunate. The video is a riot.

      • Riot … as in laugh riot. :lol: I thoroughly enjoyed it. There also is a spoof on this … using the music bed, a rapper on YouTube does a frame-by-frame imitation of Psy’s video. It’s called “ObamaStyle.” It’s very well done and also enjoyable. If you want a link, I’ll try to hunt it down.

  7. I heard this for the 1st time on Saturday. My daughters started dancing to it & I was like what the heck (Only I didn’t say heck) is that? Now I know.
    Next time I’ll join them ;)

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