Filipino Inmates Go Gangnam Style in Prison

By The Irrawaddy 5 October 2012

One thousand inmates at the Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center in Cebu (CPDRC) entertained guests with their rendition of Korean rapper Psy’s “Gangnam Style,” the viral video that has accumulated no less than 350 million views since its upload on YouTube last July, making it the Guinness World Record holder for the “Most Liked Video Ever on YouTube.”

Clad in orange prison uniforms, the prisoners put on an ecstatic show last week for guests at the detention facility on the Philippine island of Cebu. A video clip of the performance was soon posted on YouTube courtesy of Mark Anthony Bautista:

Recently the Thai navy also made a film featuring its officers and staffers dancing to the song, though their antics were criticized by higher-ranking naval officers and politicians in Thailand.

On July 17, 2007, a video of the Cebu inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” became an instant YouTube hit after it was uploaded by then CPDRC head Byron Garcia. The Filipino prisoners followed that up with several other popular renditions.

Gangnam Style” was the first public performance for the inmates in seven months since the Cebu provincial government suspended their show privileges last February following an incident inside the jail facility. The Cebu dancing inmates hold shows for the public every last Saturday of the month.

Since “Gangnam Style” became a viral hit on YouTube, rapper Psy has gone to top Billboard charts and was invited to various shows in the US including the MTV Video Music Awards, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and “The Today Show.” The song is currently No. 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

The song is popular in Asia for its catchy tune and easy-to-follow dance moves—most notably the cheesy horse-riding cowboy moves that Psy has himself fashioned.

Observers have remarked on the irony that, for many years now, the South Korean pop scene has produced so many boy bands and girl bands, invariably pretty middle-class teenagers, which have been mass-marketed for a wider Asian audience. However, none has made the impact of this chubby 34-year-old who hails from the upmarket suburb of Gangnam in Seoul.