South Korean pop sensation Psy, whose real name is Park Jaesang, has rocketed to international fame with his song Gangnam Style. Image Credit: AFP

Manila: Rich, middle-class and poor dance-crazy Filipinos love Korea’s popular Gangnam style of dancing for fun and not for its sociological baggage from South Korea.

About a thousand inmates of the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Centre — in combined orange suits and black shirts —performed a Gangnam-style dance number at the finale of a September 29 comeback performance following seven months of suspension by Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, following a riot at the inmates’ home in central Philippines last February.

The dance style became popular after South Korea’s Psy performed Gangnam’s steps in September, a performance that went virulent, topped the iTunes chart and surpassed the most-watched video on YouTube Call Me Maybe.

Since then, dance-loving Filipinos, young and old, have been swinging ala Gangnam-style, even at kiddie-parties, in which the young ones have no inkling about the so-called “spoof-steps” of the dance ala-social realism that was supposed to satirize rich kids or old rich on South Korea’s Gangnam district.

“Filipino kids just love dancing Gangnam because they see it popularised on Philippine TV programme by everyone who does not carry the sociological and cultural baggage of South Korea’s popular dance, said Aric Raceles, father of twins who celebrated their first birthday party in posh Valle Verde club house on October 20.

Young Gabriella Jaakkolla, 5, a Finnish Filipina was so adept at Gangnam dance that she almost won a dance contest held at the same party. For sure, she could spread South Korea’s dance steps to San Francisco where she will be staying after leaving Manila.

“I love Gangnam dance,” said Jaakkola who has learned to speak Filipino after her mother, US-based Eva, studied nursing in Manila for three years.

Analysts believe that the Gangnam government district became popular because of Psy, a dance genius, and also because of the dance’s origin, from Guryong, a slum area in South Korea. Gangnam and Guryong are separated by a six-lane major thoroughfare, a perfect picture of the great divide between the rich and the poor in Asia’s first world country. Guryong’s 30 hectares is not on South Korea’s GPS, definitely a cruel form of sociological snobbery. The Gangnam dance has ironically placed Guryong on the map and has de-mythyfied South Korea’s culture of richness.

In contrast, the Philippines Gangnam dance has become popular with many slum areas in almost all local government units where local government leaders seek votes during the elections.

Philippine slum areas are much written about, including poor peoples’ violent response to government-initiated demolition campaign to eradicate ugly shanties for beautification and development projects.