Psy’s, real name Park Jae-sang, popularity and accomplishment have made him the UN Goodwill Ambassador for the Youth after being appointed by UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon. The Secretary–General went on the record to say: “Psy has an unlimited global reach… I hope that we can work together using your global reach.”
Park Jae-sang’s Early Biography in Gangnam
Park Jae-sang was born in the Gangnam District of Seoul in Korea on the 31st of December 1977. His father is Won-Ho Park, the current executive chairman of the DI Corporation, which manufactures semiconductors. Interestingly, the company, which is listed on the Korean stock exchange, has doubled in price since the world has followed Psy’s internet viral musical video success.
Growing up, Psy studied at Banpo Elementary School, he then went on to attend Sehwa High School. Although he was said to have disliked studying and entertained himself by annoying other classmates, he had a way with making people laugh. One of Psy’s high school teachers recounted the following to a reporter asking about Psy’s school life experiences: “I remember Psy making a lot of sexual jokes during class. He had such a big influence that he would drive the entire class to his jokes. I disliked him at the time, but looking back, he added a great energy to the class.”
He developed passion for music at the young age of 15 after seeing foreign music groups on a Korean TV program. One of these groups was Queen—a hugely famous British Rock group in the 1970s and 1980s. After watching Freddie Mercury singing Queens’ Bohemian Rhapsody at Wembley Stadium Concert Psy’s life changed forever.
Park Jae-sang Goes to the US
By 1996, Psy graduated from high school. To prepare Psy for one day taking over Di Corporation from his father, he was sent to the United States to complete a business administration degree from Boston University. Unfortunately, as soon as Psy had arrived in the US, he totally lost interest in his studies.
Instead of using the money for his tuition, he bought musical instruments, a computer, and an MDI interface.
While in the United States, Psy also attended an English language course over his summer break. He only studied at Boston University for one semester before dropping out and applying to study at Berklee College of Music. At Berklee, Psy took lessons in contemporary writing and music synthesis as well as ear training but he again dropped out of Berklee College and returned to South Korea. He was dead set on pursuing a career in singing.
Park Jae-sang Becomes Psy
Psy’s first appearance was in 2000 on a national South Korean television where his dancing style caught the attention of a South Korean TV producer.
In January 2001, Psy released his first recording entitled “Psy” from the Psycho World. As a rookie, his album made an instant impact on the South Korean hip-hop music world, stirring the hip-hop genre with his strange dance moves and his outlandish appearance. Psy’s blunt lyrics earned him the title: “The Bizarre Singer.” With his album debut, Psy was made to pay a fine due to his album’s inappropriate lyrics.
In 2002, controversy continued to plague Psy’s career. The release of his second album “Sa 2,” was banned to those under 19 years old, stemming from complaints made by civil society groups that labeled Psy and his album negative social influences.
Also in 2002, Psy was arrested in possession of marijuana around the time that his grandfather passed away. Psy was unable to attend his grandfather’s funeral. Looking back, Psy told a reporter, "I was very close to him. I was not there at the funeral. I will regret this [being arrested] for the rest of my life, because my grandpa loved me so much and I couldn't be there for him when he was on his deathbed.”
In September of 2003, Psy released his third album called “3 Psy.” With this album being released just in time for the World Cup games held in Seoul, Psy found success with his album’s title song, “Champion.” With his song’s popularity across South Korea, Psy received accolades from the Seoul Music Awards. Despite Psy’s controversial music background, his song “Champion” marked a breakthrough for Psy in the Korean hip-hop and wider music scene in South Korea.
After several years of avoiding mandatory military service—required for all South Korean males between the age of 18-35 years old—by studying overseas, Psy enlisted in the South Korean Military in 2003.
In 2005, Psy was released from military duties, however, later evidence that he had worked for a local IT company instead of serving the required two years in Korea's military would soon catch up with him. The prosecution found that Psy evaded the draft after revelations that his Uncle actually worked at the IT company Psy was working at and had bribed the head of the IT company to allow Psy to work there. While at the company, Psy was also accused of neglecting his duty as he continued to appear on television shows and held over 52 paid concerts between 2003 and 2005.
In spite of that, 2006 was a year of success for Psy. He released his fourth album called “Sa Jib,” which went on to get Psy awarded the Best Video Performer of the Year at the Mnet Asian Music Awards. He also won honors at the SBS Music Awards. On 14th of October that year, he married his longtime girlfriend, Yoo Hye-Yeon, who was a cello player. Soon after they were married, they had twin daughters. He was found guilty of avoiding the military draft in August 2007. At the age of 30, Psy was re-drafted into the South Korean Military service. During Psy’s term in the military, he served as Private First Class, a signalman in South Korea’s 52nd Army Infantry Division. Released from service in 2009, Psy said that he had learned a lot through his experience. He also said he felt the weight of his responsibility to his wife and two daughters who were born two months before he started his second drafting.
Due to financial constraints Psy can no longer release his own music in 2010. At the encouragement of his wife, Psy signed with YG Entertainment. Under his new agreement, Psy went on to release his fifth album called “PSY Five.” However, his album’s title song “Right Now” was immediately banned for obscenities by the South Korean Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
Despite the banning of his song “Right Now” in 2010, Psy was awarded a 2nd Melon Music Awards Best Performance, the Mnet Asian Music Awards Producer Award, as well as Seoul Music Awards Best Performance.
In 2011, Psy would also win the Seoul Music Awards record of the Year for his “PSY Five” album and 1st Korea Music Copyright Target Singer, Songwriter Award, and Composition Award.
January 2012 would be Psy’s first international appearance as a singer. Appearing at the YG Family Concert in Osaka Japan, Psy performed to over 80,000 people alongside K-Pop bands, BigBang and 2NE1. Psy would say to reporter after his performance, “I’m a famous singer well-known for driving the audience wild in Korea, but here, today, I’m just a little chubby newcomer."
Gangnam Style Becomes a YouTube Sensation
In July 2012, Psy released his next album titled “PSY 6 (Six Rules) Part 1” with his now famous Gangnam Style. Psy’s Gangnam Style music video received a reported 500,000 views on the first day of its release on YouTube. By August, Gangnam Style had achieved YouTube’s Most Viewed Monthly Chart with over five million viewers per day for over two months.
Legend goes that T-Pain—a US hip hop rapper—started the initial interest in the video after he tweeted about it to his followers. This was then discovered by a Manhattan music and media blog, called “Gawker” that asked their subscribers: “Did this underground Hip Hop artist from South Korea just release the Best Music Video of the Year?” The news began to spread to other personalities, such as Tom Cruise, Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Robbie Williams who all shared the link with the massive Twitter, Facebook, and other social media fan groups.
When interviewed, Psy said, “When I realized that some top stars like have imagined or tweeted about me, I thought, 'That’s joking. That’s not gonna happen...' I never expect things like this, not because they are top stars, but because this is the biggest market in the universe for pop music, right, so everybody’s dreaming about having appearance in the U.S. so I’m still saying, 'What’s going on here? This is beautiful.”
Psy Features Kim Hyuna
There's a Gangnam Style video featuring Hyuna, a well-known Korean celebrity. Hyuna is a member of the Korean girl group 4Minute and duo Trouble Maker under Cube Entertainment, according to Wikipedia. So far, the video has been watched 367,307,591 times with 1,078,312 likes.
By September, Gangnam Style was viewed on average over five million times a day and by end of that month, it had topped the music charts in over 31 countries around the world.
In the same month, Psy was invited to appear on the US Today Show, Ellen, Saturday Night Live, Extra, The X Factor, and Sunrise television shows in Australia. All appearances requested that Psy teach his Gangnam Horse riding Dance Style. In September Psy was also honored by the Gangnam district as an honoree ambassador and was given a plaque.
Psy Becomes Ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund
By October of 2012, Psy was acknowledged by the United Nations as an “International Sensation” and Psy was invited to have a meeting with UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon to discuss music and its ability to overcome intolerance throughout the world’s youth. While attending the UN, Psy was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
On the 27th of October, Psy was awarded the Okgwan Order (Order of Cultural Merit) by the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports & Tourism.
On the 7th of November, Psy was in Oxford, giving a speech of how the inspiration of his Gangnam Style came about. He told the attendees that what he has created for himself is now both a “dream and a nightmare.” Tickets for his speech were in such demand that a ballot had to be held (last seen since Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson, and the Dalai Lama spoke).
Later in November 2012, Psy attended the MTV Europe Music Awards and won the award for the Best Video, beating Lady Gaga, Rihanna and Katy Perry. Madonna later invited Psy to dance in her concert at Madison Square Garden during her MDNA Tour. Psy, telling reporters about the experience, said it had “topped his list of accomplishments.”
Psy’s YouTube Views Outnumber Justin Bieber’s
In the same month, Psy received the New Media Award (via internet) at the American Music Awards, however, what was even more extraordinary happened on the 24th of November when his Gangnam Style song became the most downloaded video in YouTube history, at a rocketing rate of 22,000 downloads per hour, surpassing the previous YouTube download record of 847,000,000 held by Justin Bieber. If this isn’t extraordinary enough, Psy’s downloads and most downloaded views on YouTube were achieved eleven times faster than Justin Bieber's previous YouTube record.
On the 30th of November 2012, Psy was honored at the Mnet Asian Music Awards held in Hong Kong with four awards for Best Dance Performance, Favorite International Artist, Best Music Video, Nominated as Artist of the Year, Won Song of the Year, Nominated Best Male Artist. Psy also got to meet his idol, Jackie Chan, who went on public record to say Psy is a role model that proves “dreams do come true.”
When interviewed by the international media what his Gangnam Style music video was about, Psy explained:
“People who are actually from Gangnam never proclaim that they are—it's only the posers and wannabes that put on these airs and say that they are "Gangnam Style"—so this song is actually poking fun at those kinds of people who are trying so hard to be something that they're not.”
Psy's Net Worth Now Millions of Dollars
Although Psy came from a well to do family, he didn't just rely on his parents' wealth. In fact, he made millions of his own. He's now valued at $25 million, with a small part of his wealth brought about by the success of his Gangnam Style video. He's also made money out of endorsements. His Gangnam Style single brought Psy a total of 8 million dollars additional revenue, according to celebritynetworth.com.
Since the viral release and success of Gangnam Style, communities of their own in different countries around the globe have parodied Gangnam Style, such as Singapore Style, San Francisco Style, United Nations Style, India Style—all showing the wide acceptance of Psy and his record–breaking feat.
We await to see what Psy has for his next music video and dance, he says the world outside South Korea has only seen his horse riding dance and there are many more to show the world, albeit having set himself high expectations.
We look forward to following what Psy does with his extraordinary opportunity he now finds himself in... Will he be a one–hit wonder or has the world’s music scene changed forever now that Psy is an international brand?
Awards and Achievements
- 2005: Best Video Performer at the Mnet Asian Music Awards
- 2006: Best Video Performer at the Mnet Asian Music Awards
- 2009: Military Grand Award
- 2010: 2nd Melon Music Awards Best Performance, the Mnet Asian Music Awards Producer Award
- 2010: Seoul Music Awards Best Performance
- 2011: Seoul Music Awards record of the Year Psy Five
- 2011: 1st Korea Music Copyright Target Singer, Songwriter Award & Composition Award
- 2012: American Music Award Awarded for new Media, 4 Music Video Honors Best Video Award, Style Icon Award awarded top ten style icon.
- 2012: MTV Europe Video Award for Best Video, Mnet Asian Music Awards best dance performance, Favorite International Artist, Best Music Video, Nominated as Artist of the Year, Won Song of the Year, Nominated Best Male Artist. CyworldDigital Music Awards “Gangnam Style Song of the Month (July).
- 2012: Most downloaded YouTube Video ever by YouTube.
- 2012: Gangnam district awarded Psy with a plaque and named him an honorary ambassador.
- 2012: Appointed as a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and Korea’s Okgwan Order, a 4th grade Order of Cultural Merit
- 2013: People Choice Award for Favorite Music Video.