President Barack Obama was photographed as he shook hands with the controversial Korean singer PSY, whose 2012 hit “Gagnam Style” video was preceded by a viciously anti-American tirade in 2004.
Vice President Joe Biden also allowed himself to be photographed with the suddenly-tainted singer, along with several other entertainment industry personalities.
The politically tone-deaf greetings took place the same day that Obama issued a statement mourning the death of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan.
“Yesterday, our special operators in Afghanistan rescued an American citizen…Tragically, we lost one of our special operators in this effort,” said the White House statement.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family… he gave his life for his fellow Americans, and he and his teammates remind us once more of the selfless service that allows our nation to stay strong, safe and free.”
Shortly after the announcement, Obama went to meet with PSY and other invited entertainers at a Christmas celebration in Washington D.C.
Despite Obama’s security and a crowded stage, at least one attendee photographed the president shaking hands with PSY, whose real name is Park Jae-sang.
The 34-year-old singer apologized Dec. 7 his for his crudely anti-American statements in 2004, and blamed popular emotion for his decision to sing the hate-filled lyrics at a concert.
PSY sang “Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives and those who ordered them to torture… Kill them all slowly and painfully,” according to a CNN translation.
The singer also called for U.S. soldiers “daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers” to be killed.
In his new apology, PSY said that the song “was part of a deeply emotional reaction to the war in Iraq and the killing of two Korean schoolgirls that was part of the overall anti-war sentiment shared by others around the world at that time.”
“I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world,” he said.
From 1950 to 1953, 37,000 Americans died protecting South Koreans from a Soviet-backed North Korean invasion. Because of that defense, millions of South Koreas — including PSY — have enjoyed remarkable growth in wealth and political freedoms, while North Koreans have lived in a poverty-stricken gulag.
“While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self, I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused by those words,” PSY said.