20130524_seoulbeats_snsdDespite the fact that most K-pop stars are essentially living the dream — or, at the very least, some version of what people think “the dream” is — they are actually surprisingly quick to pull at my heartstrings in the worst ways. For all the purported glitz and glamour of the celebrity lifestyle, I just can’t help but feel totally awash with a combination of pity and sympathy when the ladies of SNSD all simultaneously get sniffly simply because someone asked them if they miss their mothers, or when Suzy bursts into tears at the mention of her extremely busy schedule. Maybe I’m too soft-hearted, but I even feel sorry for idols who have found themselves in sticky situations largely of their own accord, like Hyosung. I kind of just want to give her a hug (followed by a long history/grammar lesson and the requisite “period of reflection” that inevitably follows an idol misstep).

However, there are many occasions where the K-entertainment glitterati attempt to win me over with their overwhelming pathos and I’m just not buying what they’re selling. Krystal saying it makes her miserable when people stare at her on the street? Mmm, nope — try again, kid. Kang Min-kyung complaining about plastic surgery rumors? Thanks for playing, but no. Ga-in whining that she can’t eat hot dogs anymore since she filmed the infamous fish cake scene in PSY‘s “Gentleman” music video — wait, what?

Yes. Yes, you read that correctly. The Brown Eyed Girls‘ maknae actually said during an interview that she can’t eat phallic-shaped food like hot dogs now due to the “emotional trauma” (not kidding) she experienced after eating a mayonnaise-covered fish cake in a libidinous manner for PSY’s first post-“Gangnam Style” effort. She also expressed shock and hurt that people interpreted the act as being sexual or in some way intended to be some sort of adult joke, because it totally wasn’t that at all. It was totally just her eating a fish cake covered in mayonnaise because…that’s what that particular street vendor was serving as a special the night that PSY brought her there for a romantic, gentelaman-ly date?

Poor, poor, Ga-in. My heart bleeds for you, it really does. I can’t even imagine how utterly painful it must feel to bite down into a hot dog or lick a NugaBar. In fact, I’m playing you a sad, sad song on the world’s smallest violin right now. Can you hear it?

Oh, wait, no I’m not. I believe the actual reaction I had to that utterly ridiculous display of fake emotion was, “BIATCH, PLEASE..”

20130413_seoulbeats_psy_gentleman_acradabraLet us backtrack a bit and revisit for a moment the actual scene in question. For those who need a refresher, the infamous fish cake consumption occurs at about the 2:00 mark is the “Gentleman” music video, when PSY and Ga-in are enjoying a hearty meal of standard pojangmacha fare (with a pojangmacha, 포장마차, being a small street cart eatery). In addition to the also-featured ddeokbokki (떡볶이) and udong (우동), fish cake (오뎅) is commonly sold at pojangmacha for a pretty decent price and makes for either a quick and tasty snack or a nice side accompaniment to other, more substantial meals; while I’ve most often seen it sold (and used in Korean dishes) pressed and flattened into thin sheets, it can also be found in cylinders and other shapes (the cylindrical one being that on which Ga-in is munching). Because the scene is (I suppose) intended to highlight some possible sexual tension between Ga-in and PSY, the two eat pretty much everything seductively whilst making sultry and suggestive faces at the other. The reason that the fish cake bit was singled out as being particularly seductive was because the fish cake was (a) shaped like a phallus, and (b) completely covered in oozing white mayonnaise, which…well, you can do the math on that one, can’t you?


Obviously, Ga-in is essentially…uh, performing fellatio on this phallic-shaped fish cake. This should be obvious to any adult (and frankly, teenager) of a certain age and was one of the scenes that contributed to our general assessment of the “Gentleman” music video as being crass, misogynistic, and kind of disgusting.  It just contributed to the overall tone of “hey, I think that’s a wee bit inappropriate” and made me grimace a fair bit with how totally staged and completely shameless it was in its imitation of the act in question. To have Ga-in feign surprise and shock is, quite frankly, a bit insulting to the intelligence of the viewing audience. What do I mean by this? I mean that pretty much every single directoral or artistic choice made with regard to Ga-in’s consumption of the fish cake was made with the idea of this particular sex act in mind.

As already mentioned, PSY and the director had at least two options when it came to the shape of the fish cake and chose to go with the cylindrical option — a long, thin, round-tipped fish cake skewered with a stick.  More critically, however, they decided to (and I still have trouble even typing this) cover the fish cake with mayonnaise. I don’t claim to be an expert on Korean cuisine, but I can tell you with a pretty decent degree of certainty that nobody — I mean it, nobody — in Korea would ever think to eat a fish cake covered in mayonnaise. It just isn’t a natural pairing, or one that you could even find at restaurants or pojangmacha.

If you order fish cake at a pojangmacha, in all likelihood it will be given to you on a stick with no accoutrements or condiments, save for a cup of the hot (and delicious) broth in which the fish cake is kept. If one eats it with a sauce at all, it would probably be the spicy-sweet red sauce used for ddeokbokki, but even that is a rarity if you are just eating fish cake on its own. The kicker? Ga-in herself even says that “the combination of fish cake and mayonnaise together honestly tastes terrible.” You know why, Ga-in? Because it is. It tastes terrible because nobody in their right mind would put those two things together.Unless, say, someone was attempting to imitate fellatio at the climax and needed some substance that best approximated…well, again, do the math yourself. Yeah.

Point being? The fish cake scene was so obviously staged to look like a certain something (ahem) that to say otherwise just smacks of a cover-up and begs an explanation for so many things, not the least of which is the decision to put mayonnaise on a fish cake. Ga-in’s lame attempt at trying to win herself some pity by saying that she didn’t think the scene was intended to be sexual is so farfetched that it probably has the opposite effect and smacks of Hyuna telling everyone that she wasn’t trying to be sexy, but rather, tomboyish in her video for “Bubble Pop.” Nice try, but no.

20121011_seoulbeats_gain2What really grinds my gears about the whole thing is that Ga-in (and Hyuna, for that matter), never really shied away from sexuality; in fact, she’s done quite the opposite. Ga-in raised eyebrows and turned heads when she released her video for “Bloom” and became one of the first female K-pop icons to feature masturbation, a sex scene, and an orgasm in her work. Really, she could not possibly be any less shy about explicitly sexual content in K-pop. Why, then, is she playing coy with “Gentleman”? It would have been so much better if she had not only acknowledged the sexual nature of the fish cake scene and then gone on to contextualize it within the music video itself. She missed a great opportunity to offer some clarity (or even criticism!) of the scene’s inclusion in what many felt to be an uncomfortably misogynistic music video, and instead went the overplayed (and not unexpected) route of playing dumb and feigning emotional injury. Again: biatch, please.

What do you guys think of the fish cake scene and Ga-in’s reaction? Let us know below!

(Nate, Billboard)