South Korean rapper and Internet sensation PSY is apologizing to Americans for participating in anti-U.S. protests several years ago.

Park Jae-sang, who performs as PSY, issued a statement Friday after reports surfaced that he had participated in concerts protesting the U.S. military presence in South Korea during the early stages of the Iraq war.

At a 2004 concert, the “Gangnam Style” rapper performs a song with lyrics about killing “Yankees” who have been torturing Iraqi captives and their families “slowly and painfully.” During a 2002 concert, he smashed a model of a U.S. tank on stage.

“While I’m grateful for the freedom to express one’s self, I’ve learned there are limits to what language is appropriate and I’m deeply sorry for how these lyrics could be interpreted,” he wrote in the statement. “I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused by those words.”

The 34-year-old rapper said the protests were part of a “deeply emotional” reaction to the war and the death of two Korean school girls, who were killed when a U.S. military vehicle hit them as they walked alongside the road. He noted anti-war sentiment was high around the world at the time.

PSY attended college in the U.S. and said he understands the sacrifices U.S. military members have made to protect South Korea and other nations. He has recently performed in front of servicemen and women.

“And I hope they and all Americans can accept my apology,” he wrote. “While it’s important that we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so. In my music, I try to give people a release, a reason to smile. I have learned that thru music, our universal language we can all come together as a culture of humanity and I hope that you will accept my apology.”

His participation in the protests was no secret in South Korea, where the U.S. has had a large military presence since the Korean War, but was not generally known in America until recent news reports.

PSY did not write “Dear American,” a song by the Korean band N.EX.T, but he performs it. The song exhorts the listener to kill the Yankees who are torturing Iraqi captives, their superiors and their families.

Toni Braxton hospitalized with lupus  

LOS ANGELES – Singer Toni Braxton has been hospitalized in Los Angeles.

The R&B performer said in a Tweet on Friday that she’s been hospitalized because of “minor health issues” related to lupus. A spokeswoman confirmed the hospitalization.

“But no worries!,” Braxton wrote to fans. “I will be out any day now.”

The 45-year-old singer of “Un-break My Heart” revealed two years ago she has lupus, a potentially deadly autoimmune disease that killed Braxton’s uncle.

She also suffers from a narrowing of the blood vessels in her heart.

Braxton said in a recent “20/20” interview that the disease helped push her into a recent bankruptcy.

Gaga thanks premier for tolerance

MOSCOW – Lady Gaga has expressed “her gratitude” to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for opposing regional laws that make it a crime to provide minors with information about homosexuality.

The pop star tweeted Saturday that she thanks the former president for “not standing by your party’s anti-gay propaganda law.”

Gaga’s tweet followed her arrival in St. Petersburg, one of the three Russian cities that have recently passed bills imposing fines of up to $150,000 for providing minors with information on homosexuality, which the laws term “homosexual propaganda.”

Homophobia remains strong in Russia.

– From news service reports