‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Gangnam Style’ show the small world of pop culture


For Michael Kim, a Halloween costume became more than an outfit when he not only dressed up as the artist of “Gangnam Style,” but also performed a flash mob of the dance in the song.

Foreign pop culture often crosses country lines and comes to America. The band Of Monsters and Men originated in Iceland. The book series “Harry Potter” came from the United Kingdom. Recently, the Korean song “Gangnam Style” and the British television show “Dr. Who” are gaining popularity outside of the countries they were created in.

Kim, 21, studying international relations, received a recommendation from one of his friends to dress up as PSY, the artist of the song “Gangnam Style,” for Halloween because he is half-Korean. He first heard of the song from his mom after returning home from his mission.

“The first time I saw it I thought it was a little interesting,” Kim said. “I thought there was a whole lot of Korean music that was better than that, but it grew on me.”

“Gangnam Style”  launched on July 15 and holds the Guinness World Record for being the most liked video on YouTube ever, with over five million likes.

Kim said it is great to have the song gaining such popularity in America.

“A lot of Americans know about K-Pop,” Kim said. “People actually know what Korea is, and it’s not just focused on North Korea and nuclear bombs.”

Stephanie Thayn, a senior from Wellington, said she loves Korean pop culture. This love developed after she served in the Taejon South Korea Mission. She saw the song “Gangnam Style” on Facebook.

“I thought it was really similar to all Korean music,” Thayn said. “I didn’t know it would get so popular.”

Thayn attributed part of the song’s popularity to the use of the English phrase “sexy lady” in the song.

“Some of the K-Pop I listen to has no English, and I don’t think Americans like it as much,” Thayn said.

While “Gangnam Style” crossed the Pacific Ocean to get to America, “Doctor Who” came from the Atlantic Ocean. “Doctor Who” is a British science-fiction television show. It originally debuted in 1963. In 1989, the show took a break until 2005, when it returned. Unlike “The Office,” an American television show adapted from the British Broadcasting Corporation version of the show, “Doctor Who” comes in its original British form.

Jill Hacking, a senior studying humanities, began watching “Doctor Who” because her dad watched it growing up.

“It just kind of became a family thing,” Hacking said. “It has a broad appeal, but it never gets inappropriate. I feel like it’s a show that all ages can watch; my younger siblings watch it.”

Hacking explained that the appropriateness of the show for all ages comes not only from the show avoiding profanity but also from Doctor Who solving his problems through negotiations and cleverness instead of through violence.

Hacking said she thinks it makes sense the show has gained popularity in America.

“When we first started watching it and we found other ‘Doctor Who’ fans we would be like, ‘Oh my gosh, there are like two of us in America,'” Hacking said. “It seems to have gained a bigger following, so now it’s not as surprising.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email