Explanation necessary: Psy’s “Hangover”

June 9, 2014

By Kim Young-jin, Joel Lee

Why are Psy and Snoop Dogg sitting together in a convenience store, scarfing down instant noodles? What are they drinking in those small green bottles?

If you’ve watched the video for Psy’s new jam “Hangover” ㅡ­ released on his YouTube page Monday ㅡ and are wondering about a few things, you’re probably not alone. The video is full of the z aniness that the viral Korean rapper is known for.

It’s also filled with references about Korea and its unique drinking culture.

Korea is a heavy-drinking nation, recording the highest per capita alcohol consumption rate in Asia, according to the World Health Organization. The tendency has historically lead to large spending on medicines to cure alcohol-related illnesses.

Those familiar with the country will be nodding their heads at the references to the culture in Psy’s video. For everyone else here’s a breakdown of the drunken melange.

The video begins with Psy waking up on the floor of an apartment that’s cluttered with beer bottles. He’s clutching a stuffed animal, suggesting the night of debauchery, during which he hoped to “catch a lady by the toe,” ended in futility.

At 0:10 on the video, we see Psy with his head stuck in the toilet. Snoop Dogg ­ㅡ a.k.a. Calvin Broadus, Jr. ㅡ appears out of the bathtub and starts whacking his buddy on the back.

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This is a scene you may encounter in Korea, as it’s common to assist one’s friend in expelling the toxicity ­– or at least try to. It’s questionable whether the whacking helps, but props to Psy and Snoop for making a dance out of it.

At 0:41, Psy mimes playing a wind instrument in time with a high-pitched squeal. Koreans will recognize his “air-playing” motion as a reference to the “piri,” a traditional woodwind instrument.

The video begins flashing back to the previous night, beginning with Psy surrounded by an intricate assemblage of beer and shot glasses. He sets off a domino effect in which the shot glasses all fall into the beer.

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YouTube capture

Those who have spent a night drinking in Korea will instantly recognize this as the boilermaker known as “poktangju,” which typically consists of cheap domestic lager and the distilled Korean beverage, ”soju. ” Poktangju packs a mighty punch and is a staple at office get-togethers (often to the chagrin of workers who have to wake up early the next day).

Psy and Snoop head to a convenient store to fill their stomachs and chat. This is a common practice in Korea, and the stores have microwaves to heat up instant food.

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YouTube capture

The Korean chows down on instant noodles, while the American opts for triangle-shaped “kim-bab” (rice rolled in laver). Psy also gulps down a bottle of one of the “anti-hangover” drinks popular here. Such products contain various plant extracts and vitamins.

The musicians are next seen at a public bath house, which are ubiquitous in Korea. The facilities usually have multiple hot tubs of varying temperatures. The fellas are sitting in one with a sign that translates to “half-drunk tub.”

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In a flashback, Psy and Snoop are seen at a Chinese restaurant (1:35).

On the table are bowls of “jajangmyeon,” a black-beans-and-noodle dish that was popularized by the country’s ethnic Chinese community. As Psy pours a shot for his friend, he brings his left hand to his elbow, a sign of respect.

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At 2:29, the friends head to a karaoke room ㅡ known in Korea as “noraebang” ㅡ with two middle-aged women they met at the restaurant.

While most offer good clean fun, noraebang are often a site where men can buy the accompaniment of women. As for Psy and Snoop, their companions begin looking younger due to their inebriation.

Their next stop (3:06) is an amusement park on Wolmido Island, a tourist destination not far from Incheon.

At 3:34, the rappers head to a billiards hall, where they play four-ball. Frequenters of such joints ㅡ including Psy ㅡ often order jajangmyeon from the nearest Chinese restaurant and the noodles are quickly delivered via moped or motorcycle.

The friends are next seen in a temple (3:58) where they engage in some martial arts and meet up with CL from 2NE1. The fellas drink from a variety of containers.

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Note the large blue ladle. These have traditionally been used to help people bathe. However, university students sometimes use them to mix a variety of beverages for binge drinking games. Participants are dared to drink from cocktails that include rather unappetizing elements such as soy sauce.

Psy and Snoop’s last stop is a grilled shellfish restaurant. At 4:18, they intertwine their arms as they take a shot of soju. This is known as a “love shot” and is usually done among people of the opposite sex to get closer to one another.

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YouTube capture

The night ends in chaos, with the rappers inadvertently starting a fight in the restaurant. They don’t appear too drunk as they walk coolly into the morning. But the bedlam is reflected at 4:40 when a deliveryman runs by on fire, still clutching the metal case in which he carries food.

 

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