SEOUL, South Korea — Any follow-up effort to “Gangnam Style” was doomed, but “Assarabia” was over before it began.
For the South Korean rapper's future in the Middle East, that might be a good thing.
PSY said Monday he would change the title and lyrics to a new song that had been tentatively titled “Assarabia” after a journalist suggested it might offend Muslims or those who live in the Middle East.
PSY responded by saying the word is actually a loose English interpretation of a South Korean phrase for "excitement," so there was no offense intended.
GlobalPost senior correspondent in Korea, Geoffrey Cain, said that, in Korean, "Assarabia" (or "Assalabia") is "the equivalent of saying 'Oh yeah!'"
Still, PSY has realized the extent of a potential scandal, according to Korean news sources, and is renaming is Korean-language song in line with American norms.
GlobalPost's Cain notes that the Korean press is reporting the story differently from American media outlets.
Americans can't correctly pronounce the Korean word 'Assalavia,' and that they instead say 'Ass Arabia' or 'Ass Arab.' So Psy is bending towards the English language.
PSY's record label told the Wall Street Journal as much.
It was Voice of America reporter Steve Herman who first alerted PSY to the potential pitfalls.
PSY responded by suggesting there’s an alternate spelling, “assaraVia.”
NBC News noted that there is no letter “V” equivalent in Korean.
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."— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) March 18, 2013
The music world has long anticipated PSY’s next single after the success of “Gangnam Style.” The song’s video has generated 1.44 billion views on YouTube, a world record.
More from GlobalPost: New PSY single expected in April
Geoffrey Cain contributed to this report from Seoul.