Gangnam Style and Nobel Prize
Gangnam Style and Nobel Prize
  • Suh Euiho
  • 승인 2013.03.20 23:43
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Psy’s Gangnam Style has become an icon of Korean culture. It is a flagship song symbolizing the globalization of Korean culture.
Psy created the song in July of 2012. The song quickly climbed to the top of the world, hitting a record setting over 1 billion clicks on YouTube. The song topped the music charts of thirty countries, including the UK and most other European countries. Psy a chieved various music awards from international music festivals. Psy was featured in the famed Time Square of New York in the 2013 New Year’s Eve TV concert, which is an honor many entertainers dream of.
Furthermore, more than half a million Gangnam Style parodies were made, publicizing the small country of Korea to the world. Major US universities including MIT have participated in this parade while POSTECH, supported by donations from faculty, made its own version, incorporating sports clubs and student-dancers. The music video on YouTube is now a great contribution to POSTECH’s global visibility.
What can we learn from the shocking phenomenon of Gangnam Style?
First, we learn any Korean native product can rise to the top position in the world. We never imagined that a Korean song could be listed No. 1 worldwide. Although Korean songs and movies are getting popular in Asia, it was regarded as unrealistic to expect the same feat to reach the western hemisphere.
Second, we also realize that the world must be our playground. Had the song not been uploaded to YouTube, the most popular video website globally, it would not have been that successful. In addition, the entire promotion process was sped up through an alliance with a big global entertainment agent.
Third, Psy’s internationality played a large role. He is a fluent English speaker and has no fear in talking to English-speaking people and performing on the big stage. He is very aggressive and talented in international activities and marketing.
How can we connect the Gangnam Style success to our Nobel Prize dream?
First, we must believe in ourselves that Koreans can make it, and any research outcome from Korean institutes and academia can make a Nobel Prize. An increasing number of world-class research results are coming out of Korean universities and research institutes. Yet, the confidence has not been sufficiently developed. Like Gangnam Style, we need to build up the confidence in our research product with a strong “Can-do Spirit.”
Second, like Gangnam Style, our research environment should be globalized. Most Nobel Prize research results are from collaborative works from different countries or different institutes. Korean research projects should be linked to international scholars and platforms.  The outcomes must be published in top international journals in conjunction with top-notch international scholars. International scholastic networking, in that sense, is enormously important.
Third, global infrastructure is an absolute pre-requisite to Korean research institutes and academia. Psy speaks English fluently and has an admirable global sense. Our researchers should have the same quality preparations that Psy has. The bilingual campus policy is still controversial, and we have a long way to go to become a global university. It is strongly desirable that all academia people from students to faculty must be able to speak English relatively freely and possess high global sense. We need to invite more international professors and scholars, and exchange faculty and students with universities in foreign countries.
Since these three conditions (confidence in creativity, global environment, and language) are well met in the US, the leading country in the number of Nobel Prizes, they have successfully produced more than 300 prizes. Clearly we have disadvantages in meeting these conditions. But, let us believe in ourselves and try our best to overcome these disadvantages. Psy showed that we can do it.
The Times Higher Education (THE) ranked POSTECH No. 28 (No. 1 in Korea) in 2010 and listed POSTECH again No. 1 in the world among the universities under 50 year old. These unprecedented achievements are proof that a capable Korean university can compete with world-class universities.
Nobel Prize! It should never be considered an impossible dream. By taking all the lessons Gangnam Style taught to us, we will make the dream come true!