The next global dance phenomenon will not be "Assarabia."
After fielding concerns from a journalist who wondered if that word would offend Arabs or others who might mistake the word for something derogatory, crossover star PSY has decided to change the name of one of his upcoming songs and tweak the lyrics.
In South Korea, assarabia is a slang term to express excitement—and it obviously doesn't look the same written in Korean.
Steve Herman, chief of Voice of America's Northeast Asia burea, first commented on the possible confusion Sunday after PSY commented that people were having trouble pronouncing his latest single. "Not sure how this will go over in Middle East: #ROK's @psy_oppa says next possible released song might be titled ‘Assarabiam,'" Herman tweeted.
PSY clarified pretty quickly, with Herman later tweeting Sunday: "Received DM from @psy_oppa (he adds OK to quote): 'It's Korean slang & should be spelled assaraVia & 'that's not gonna be a single anyway.'"
"so u don't have to worry...THX for ya regard :)" PSY wrote.
The letter v doesn't have an equivalent sound in the Korean alphabet, which could explain the concern that "Assaravia" could end up being widely mispronounced and, subsequently, misunderstood.
A spokesman for PSY's record label, YG Entertainment, told the Wall Street Journal that the word can be difficult for non-Korean speakers to pronounce, adding that the rapper's next single should be announced soon.
And PSY probably doesn't need another international incident in his hands. The YouTube record-smashing phenom had to quickly make public amends last year when video surfaced of him rapping anti-American sentiments pre-"Gangnam Style" sucess.