Posted : 2012-10-27 18:50
Updated : 2012-10-27 18:50

Psy's order of merit hits opposition

By Kim Rahn

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."

관련 한글 기사

싸이 문화훈장 수여 둘러싸고 논란

정부가 강남스타일로 전세계적 열풍을 불러일으킨 싸이에게 문화훈장을 주기로 한 데에 논란이 일고 있다. 일부는 한국을 세계에 알렸으니 훈장을 줘야 한다고 찬성하는 반면, 다른 일부는 정부가 싸이의 성공에 밥숟가락을 엊는 것이라고 비판을 하고 있는 것이다.

문화체육관광부는 문화훈장 5등급 중 4등급인 옥관훈장을 싸이에게 수여하기로 했다고 밝혔다. 문광부 관계자는 “싸이가 우리나라 문화 예술 발전에 기여한 공로를 인정하기로 했다. 한국 음악이 세계에 퍼지면서 싸이의 노래가 국가 브랜드를 높이는데 이바지했다”고 말했다.

문광부와 행정안전부가 공로 심사를 마치고 국무회의에서 승인이 나면 다음달 19일 열리는 한국대중문화예술상에서 수여를 하게 된다.

최광식 문광부 장관도 이달 초 국감에서 “싸이 강남스타일의 흥행은 한국 대중문화에 전례가 없는 족적이다. 훈장을 수여하려 고려중이다”라고 밝힌 바 있다.

그러나 시민들은 엇갈린 반응을 보이고 있다.

한 네티즌은 “싸이는 빌보드 5주 연속 1위한 첫번째 한국인이고 단 한 곡으로 전세계에 한국을 알렸으니 훈장을 받는게 마땅하다”고 말했다. 다른 네티즌도 “싸이는 세계가 원해서 ‘강제진출’ 당했다. 국위선양을 한거다”라고 말했다.

그러나 일부는 싸이의 경력이 훈장을 받기에는 미흡하고 국가 발전에 그리 크게 이바지하지도 않았다고 지적했다. 26세 직장인 박 모 씨는 “싸이가 이룬 것은 굉장하지만, 역대 훈장 수상자들에 비했을 때 너무 경력이 짧지 않나? 게다가 싸이가 사실 한국을 알렸다기보단 강남을 알린게 아닌가”라고 말했다.

또 다수의 사람들은 정부에 냉소적인 반응을 보였다. 한 35세 은행원은 “정부가 싸이에게 해준게 뭐가 있나. 유해매체물로 지정하기밖에 더 했나. 지금와서 싸이가 자기네들 한류 홍보 덕분에 성공한 것처럼 이용하는거 아닌가”라고 말했다.

한 트위터리안은 “유해물 취급하더니 이제 외화 벌어오니까 기특하냐? 이게 바로 우리나라가 문화 예술을 취급하는 방식이다”라고 비난했다. 다른 트위터리안도 “싸이는 정부나 훈장이 필요 없다. 정부가 싸이를 필요로 할 뿐이다. 진짜 필요한 사람한테 줘라”고 말했다.

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