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Catholics jump on viral video trend with 'Seongdang Style'

Catholic video spoof notches up 110,000 hits

Father Cha and students dancing the 'horse-riding dance.' (Stephen Hong, Sept. 2) Father Cha and students dancing the 'horse-riding dance.' (Stephen Hong, Sept. 2)
  • Stephen Hong, Seoul
  • Korea
  • September 4, 2012
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Countless parody videos of South Korean rapper Psy’s viral sensation Gangnam Style have been released, and now a Catholic parish in Seoul has added its take on the humorous song and dance phenomenon.

Seongdang Style, made by a Catholic priest and his students, has received more than 110,000 views since it was uploaded on August 28.

"It's important for the Church to develop digital content in order to survive in modern society," said Father Ignatius Kim Min-soo, who has a doctorate in mass communication.

In Seongdang Style, a priest wearing a black soutane and sunglasses performs Psy's ‘horse-riding dance,' while his young students jump and run around the church, singing lyrics more palatable to Catholicism.

“Sisters who pray the Angelus/Brothers who pray the rosary/They look beautiful and lovely,” says the Catholic version. “Brothers whose faith is more solid than their muscles/Shall we start mass now?”

"Gangnam" is the name of an affluent and trendy district in Seoul and "Seongdang" means a Catholic church in Korean.

Psy was not well known outside Korea before posting the music video on YouTube on July 15, where it has received more than 100 million hits. It has been featured by foreign news media such as CNN, the Los Angeles Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Father Paul Cha Bawoo-na, assistant priest of Sangbong Church in Seoul, said he wanted to show “what the Church life is” in the video. The video includes scenes from the church’s vestry and confessional for non-Catholics.

Father Cha was ordained in 2009 and said he and six high school students from his parish decided to make a parody version of ‘Gangnam Style’ during the summer vacation.

They filmed the performance four times over two weeks before finishing it on August 25 with the help of a professional video editor in the parish.

Father Cha showed it to his parishioners during Sunday mass on August 26 before going on a week-long vacation.

“The video suddenly exploded during my vacation,” he said. “The surprising reactions to the parody video shows the lack of good digital content in the Church.” The experience has encouraged him to explore using popular culture to promote Catholicism.

Francesca Lee Hae-won, a high school student who participated in the video production, said there are only two or three Catholics in her class of 30, most of whom are not familiar with the Catholic Church.

When they watched the video, though, they asked her about Catholicism, and she said she was “pleased and proud of myself as a Catholic.”

Another student, Paul Hyun Myung-hyun, said when he told schoolmates that the priest on the video actually was his priest, they wanted to visit the parish.

Francis Park Moon-su, vice president of the Catholic Academy for Korean Culture, supported the priest’s initiative, saying, “Church leadership must tolerate and encourage young people.”

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