Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg revealed today that he had learned the Korean language to better enjoy the music of K-pop sensations BTS. The South Bend, Indiana, mayor attended a recent concert, part of the group’s “Love Yourself” world tour, with his husband, Chasten.
Pop music isn’t usually my thing…
I’m more of an alt-rock guy, and I love a good jam band. You know, with pop everything is so commercialized and choreographed there’s no room for experimentation, but a band like Phish brings something new to the song every time they play it. That’s what I call progressive. But Chasten loves BTS, and I really wanted to share that with him. He plays them in the car all the time, so I naturally got curious what they were singing about, and even though I’m really busy with the campaign, I decided to do some research.
This isn’t the first time the political polyglot has pulled a linguistic deep dive: he famously learned Norwegian in college just to read the novels of Erlend Loe. The son of a linguist, Buttigieg speaks eight languages–now nine–to varying degrees, a fact that has made a big impression on both commentators and potential voters.
Of BTS, he said:
I was pleasantly surprised by the band’s lyrics. They’re no Radiohead, of course, but ‘Spine Breaker’ has a good message about the price of rampant consumerism, and ‘Love Myself’ is a positive song about self-acceptance that I can totally relate to. Oh, and Suga’s got some amazing flow!
The power couple made a big splash at the concert, posing for photos and chatting about politics, but once BTS took the stage it was all about the music. Cell phone video shows the mayor bobbing his head and silently mouthing lyrics while Chasten shimmies and gyrates happily beside him.
The things we do for love…
“Mayor Pete,” as he is popularly known to Americans who can’t pronounce his last name, has garnered a lot of attention in recent months and has surged in the polls. Despite his youth, many pundits are calling him a serious candidate for the Democratic nomination. He admits that this played a role in his decision to learn the language.
The first primary debate showed that Democrats care about foreign language skills–and that Cory Booker definitely cared about Beto’s Spanish. This is a crowded field, so I need to do everything I can to pull away from the pack. Plus, knowing Korean could come in handy if I’m elected: it might be useful to deal with Kim Jong Un in his own language. There are differences between the North and South Korean dialects, of course, but I can pick them up on the plane.
Reactions to the announcement have been split. While Democrats cheered Buttigieg for another display of intellectual prowess, Republicans have branded him a showoff and an elitist, with Fox News commentator Sean Hannity labelling him a “Harvard smarty-pants.” As usual, President Trump went a step further, tweeting about the influence of foreign boy bands.
Mayor Pete (typical democrat, un-American) spotted today at Chinese music concert. Sad! Backstreets back (great American band) and that shoud be good enough for all Americans. #MAGA #DNAWorldTour
Buttigieg has not responded to the tweet.
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