Gangnam Style Personal Finance!

Gangnam Style

(Article today by Andrew Kim)

This dance is the hottest thing since Samsung smartphones. In the past month, it’s been on Facebook walls across the internet, all over the WSJ, and lauded by the auto-tuned voice of this generation — T-Pain.

If you haven’t seen it already, it’s time you caught up with the rest of the world and take a peek.

Why am I talking about a Korean music video on a personal finance blog? What in the world does this have to do with money? Ah-hah! I set you up there. It has have everything to do with money!

As a Korean-American, I was dumbfounded a few weeks ago when I noticed my non-Korean friends sharing this video. Clearly these friends did not understand a single thing this whacky man was saying, but they loved it.

Let me give you a quick overview of the song: Gangnam is a district in Seoul, South Korea. It’s like the Dubai of Korea. Roughly 7% of the country’s GDP is located in the district’s 15 square miles. It’s the popular destination for nice restaurants, designer stores, and plastic surgery. Basically, it’s the wealthiest area of the fast growing nation of South Korea.

The way I see it, Gangnam Style pokes fun at the lavish lifestyle portrayed in Korean culture. He is Gangnam Style so he walks around with models and does ridiculous things because he’s rich. Psy, the artist, takes the ridiculousness to an extreme to make a statement.

Did you even know that the song you and your friends were enjoying is all about wealth? I’ve read some articles suggesting that it’s struck a particular chord with Americans because we too have this thing against the 1%. So even though you may not have known what was being said, you subconsciously may have realized he was making fun of the rich.

The takeaway here is DON’T become Gangnam Style. It’s funny, but financially unwise. Stick to budgets and avoid photoshoots with models where debris is being thrown at your face.

Gangnam Style Photoshoot
Oh, and that concentration of wealth in Gangnam? It looks like much of that is funded by credit. According to Reuters,

“Korean household debt reached 155 percent of disposable income in 2010, exceeding the 138 percent recorded in the United States at the outset of the subprime crisis”.

That’s a scary statistic. Americans began defaulting on their debt creating a cascading effect. The country that brings you LG, Samsung, Hyundai, ships (did you know Korea is the #1 producer of ships in the world?), and Korean pop music looks to be headed into dangerous territory. Sounds like there’s a real need for personal finance blogs in Korea.

If you follow personal finance blogs, you may be well on your way to being able to afford the Gangnam Style life. Just skip out on the spending habits (don’t go renting a boat just to do a whacky dance on it) and do it without the debt.

But definitely feel free to do the sweet Gangnam Style dance :)

Guest Post by Andrew Kim – A recent graduate and author of the personal finance blog “Credit Card Andy“. He blogs about the basics of personal finance with a focus on students and young 20-something year olds.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I actually hadn’t heard of this video until Andrew pinged me on it (even though I’ve lived in Korea!) and I freakin’ love it. Brilliant messaging and entertaining as hell ;) Though it does get stuck in your head, sorry about that…  Anyone wanna do an American spoof on this?]

Photo/GIF cred: Kirremek

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  1. Greg@ClubThrifty September 13, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    I first saw this video a few weeks ago and laughed my crack off while watching it at work…and I work at a funeral home. Laughing at a funeral home can be a little bit uncomfortable, so I did my best to hold it in…succeeding in blowing a snot bubble instead. But, I digress.

    If you can avoid spending less than you make, you’ll be well on your way to financial freedom. The problem is that so many peoople finance the Gangnam Style lifestyle. One day, they look back and all they have is a bunch of crap and a mountain of debt.

  2. Scott September 13, 2012 at 9:55 AM

    Love the Gangnam style theme of the post! Such an addictive song!

  3. Sean @ One Smart Dollar September 13, 2012 at 10:28 AM

    Hilarious video. My wife used to live in Korea for three years and said this is so true of the lifestyle there. Spend, spend, spend

  4. Brittany September 13, 2012 at 10:31 AM

    Oh, my god, this is hilarious! I’d seen other people posting the video but hadn’t watched it before now. I have now watched the video multiple times. Thank you for sharing!!

  5. April September 13, 2012 at 10:33 AM

    “Stick to budgets and avoid photoshoots with models where debris is being thrown at your face.”

    Wise, wise words.

  6. DebtKiller September 13, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    This guy is just straight-up killing it. Sometimes you just need to sit back and forget about personal finances for a few minutes. This is perfect.

  7. LB September 13, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    That is awesome! I had to share with my friends since I am such a financial nerd. I did give them a lecture about using a budget instead of credit cards and don’t finance models with debris being thrown in their face. :)

  8. Jess September 13, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    Haha, I completely love this song! I have it on a playlist in my car and everything. But here’s a good article about the subtext-
    Who knew that coffee was a status symbol?!

  9. William @ Drop Dead Money September 13, 2012 at 12:32 PM

    So is this a prelude to your telling us your move is actually going to be… to Korea? Hey man, you can dance right where you are. If you have a craving for debris in your face, the bunch of us can find a way to make that happen… ;)

  10. Andrew @ Credit Card Andy September 13, 2012 at 3:30 PM

    @Greg @ Club Thrifty – Haha, what an unfortunate location to discover this video. These viral videos seem to creep up on you out of nowhere. But great point. Some choose the Gangnam Style early and pay for it later. Others save up for it and enjoy the lifestyle later. Ideally, you live comfortably, save a bit, and spread out the Gangnam Style over the course of your life. Maybe that’s just my preference.
    @Scott – Thanks! I agree, I keep hearing it everywhere.
    @Sean @ One Smart Dollar – Yeah the culture is crazy. I just hope that those who do this wisen up and fix their spending habits before it catches up to them. At one point or another, you have to pay for what you buy.
    @Brittany – That seems to be the trend of new viewers. Everyone says they watch the video multiple times. That definitely says something.
    @April – Haha thanks!
    @DebtKiller – Great point. It’s okay to splurge every once in a while to reward yourself for responsibly managing your money. I imagine J., doing this dance every once in a while in between writing posts.
    @LB – Yes. This is the perfect opportunity to spread the word about responsible spending. Just open up with, “Hey, you know that Gangnam Style song?” and the door is wide open for some personal finance knowledge.
    @Jess – Yes, I definitely read this article. You know a song has made it when people start breaking it down and analyzing it in the Atlantic.
    @William @ Drop Dead Money – I’ll help out with the debris too. Sounds like a great get-together.

  11. Brent Pittman September 13, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    I will never be the same. Every time I go to K-town this song will pop in my head. beh-go-pah-yo

  12. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager September 13, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    When did you live in Korea, J$?

  13. Karen September 14, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    The Today Show is having him on today.

  14. cat September 15, 2012 at 7:50 PM

    I like the horses :)

  15. J. Money September 16, 2012 at 10:05 AM

    Thanks again for putting this together, Andrew! A nice change of pace around here :)

    @Greg@ClubThrifty – You work at a funeral home?? Let’s do a “Behind the scenes” guest post! Would you be up for it?
    @Sean @ One Smart Dollar – I didn’t know you guys lived there? How cool would it be if we were all there at the same time and didn’t even know it? Or we were even FRIENDS there! Haha…
    @William @ Drop Dead Money – Haha, nope! Though I wouldn’t mind going back for a bit – I loved it there!
    @Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager – Back in my high school years :) It was great – every time a new person arrives there it’s like a big ol’ party!