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Psy
PSY EMTV logo 27 (8198008711).jpg
Psy in December 2012
Born
Park Jae-sang

(1977-12-31) December 31, 1977 (age 46)
Seoul, South Korea
Occupation
  • Singer
  • rapper
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active 1999–present
Organization P Nation
Spouse(s)
Yoo Hye-yeon
(m. 2006)
Children 2
Awards Okgwan Order of Cultural Merit (2012)
Musical career
Genres
Labels
  • Bidman
  • LNLT
  • Pan
  • Yamazone
  • YG
  • P Nation
  • Avex Trax
  • Republic
  • Schoolboy
Korean name
Hangul 박재상
Hanja 朴載
Revised Romanization Bak Jae-sang
McCune–Reischauer Pak Chaesang
Stage name
Hangul 싸이
Revised Romanization Ssai
McCune–Reischauer Ssai

Park Jae-sang (Hangul: 박재상, IPA: [pɐk̚.t͡ɕεsɐŋ]; born December 31, 1977), better known by his stage name Psy (Hangul: 싸이; /ˈs/ sy), is a South Korean rapper and singer-songwriter. Known for his humorous music videos and performances, he has received numerous accolades, including an American Music Award, ten MAMA Awards, and a World Music Award.

Psy debuted with his first studio album Psy from the Psycho World! to mixed reviews from critics, who criticized its inappropriate content. In 2010, he signed with YG Entertainment, where he released his breakthrough single "Gangnam Style" in 2012. The song and its accompanying music video became a trend following its release; the music video was the most-viewed video on YouTube at the time and became the first to reach 1 billion views. He followed this with his single "Gentleman", which was the most-viewed YouTube video in its first 24 hours at the time. In 2018, he founded his talent agency P Nation, where he released his studio album Psy 9th in 2022, supported by the lead track "That That".

Early life

Park Jae-sang was born on December 31, 1977, to an affluent family in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. His father, Park Won-Ho, is the executive chairman of DI Corporation, a manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment listed on the Korea Exchange. His mother, Kim Young-hee, owns several restaurants in Gangnam.

Park attended Banpo (반포) Elementary and Middle Schools and Sehwa (세화) High School. He disliked school and was known as the class clown. In an interview on South Korea's Seoul Broadcasting System, a former teacher of Park said: "Psy [...] had such a big influence that he would drive the entire class to his jokes. I disliked him at the time, but looking back, I see that he added a great energy to the class."

Park told CNN's Alina Cho that when he was 15 years old, he watched a Korean TV programme that introduced foreign pop music. One particular episode showed a concert at Wembley Stadium held by the British rock band Queen where they performed their 1975 hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody". Park said it was this concert footage that sparked his love for music.

Music career

1996–2000: Brief study in the United States and career beginnings

Gangnam Style PSY 17logo (8037750783)
Psy with the Gangnam Style logo

As part of preparations to take over DI Corporation from his father, Park had originally planned to study business administration at Boston University in 1996. However, upon his arrival in the United States, he lost interest in his studies, spending his remaining tuition funds on musical instruments and entertainment equipment, including a computer, an electric keyboard, and a MIDI interface. After attending an English-language summer course and studying for one semester, Park dropped out of Boston University and applied to study at Berklee College of Music instead. During his time at Berklee, Park took core curriculum lessons in ear training, contemporary writing and music synthesis, but he soon dropped out and returned to South Korea to pursue a career as a singer, without having attained a degree from either Boston University or Berklee. Psy was found by South Korean rapper zoPD and featured in the song "카사노바" from his second album In Stardom Version 2.0 in 1999. In South Korea, Psy made his first appearance on Korean national television in 2000 after his dancing caught the eye of a TV producer.

2001–2002: Psy from the Psycho World!, controversy, and domestic success

In January 2001, Psy debuted his full-length album Psy from the Psycho World!, for which he was fined by South Korean government authorities due to his album's "inappropriate content". Psy was a rookie hip hop singer that stirred up the Korean pop music scene with very blunt lyrics, peculiar dance moves and an unconventional appearance that earned him the nickname "The Bizarre Singer(엽기가수)".

His second album Sa 2 also created controversy upon its release in 2002, earning complaints from civil groups due to the potentially negative influence his album would have on children and teenagers. Since then, Psy has been thought of as a controversial artist, and Sa 2 was banned in 2002 from being sold to the under-19 set. In September of the same year, Psy released his third album 3 Psy. The album's title song, "Champion", saw great success partly due to the hype from the World Cup games held in Seoul. Despite the significant amount of controversy surrounding his music, Psy was awarded songwriting accolades at the annual Seoul Music Awards, marking his breakthrough in the South Korean music industry.

2003–2009: Military service, Ssajib, and re-enlistment

In 2003, Psy was conscripted into the South Korean military as part of mandatory military service imposed on all South Korean men aged 18 to 35. Psy was excused from military duty due to working at a software development company (the South Korean government grants exemptions to those with technical expertise work in companies that serve the national interest). He was expected to be released from duties in 2005. In 2006, Psy released his fourth album Ssajib, which won honors at the 2006 SBS Music Awards and Hong Kong's Mnet Asian Music Awards.

In 2007, state prosecutors accused Psy of "neglecting" his work, holding concerts and appearing on local television networks during his period of prior employment. On October 12, 2007, the Seoul Administrative Court decided that Psy must be redrafted, rejecting a lawsuit filed by Psy against the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) in August. Two months later, Psy was re-drafted into the military where he had held the rank of Private First Class and served as a signalman in the 52nd Army Infantry Division, before being released from duties in July 2009.

2010–2012: Fifth studio album and debut performance in Japan

Owing to financial difficulties, Psy could no longer release his own songs. His wife encouraged him to join the South Korean music label YG Entertainment, whose founder and chief executive officer Yang Hyun-suk was an old friend of Psy's. In 2010, Psy joined YG Entertainment. The K-pop singer Kim Hee-chul, from the boyband Super Junior, wished Psy had joined his group's label SM Entertainment instead. Psy released his fifth album PsyFive in 2010. The album received several awards, including Melon Music Award and Mnet Asian Music Award. Psy had, up until this point, topped domestic music charts half a dozen times throughout his twelve-year career in South Korea.

On January 7, 2012, Psy performed alongside K-pop bands Bigbang and 2NE1 in front of 80,000 Japanese fans during the YG Family Concert in Osaka. His performance was broadcast by Mezamashi TV (mezamashi meaning "wake-up alarm"), a Japanese news magazine show produced by Fuji Television. This marked his first appearance on a foreign broadcasting network. During the concert, Psy introduced himself to his Japanese fans with a sign that read "I'm a famous singer well known for driving the audience wild in Korea, but here, today, I'm just a little chubby newcomer" and sang five of his hit songs while Japanese TV commentators expressed their approval in their astonishment at his humorous incorporation of the moves of Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.

2012–2013: "Gangnam Style" and international breakthrough

Psy and Ban Ki-moon 3
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon meeting with Psy
Psy NRJ Music Awards 2013
Psy performing in Cannes, France, at the January 2013 NRJ Music Awards ceremony

In July 2012, Psy released his sixth album Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1 and the song "Gangnam Style" appeared in broadcasting networks and newspapers outside Asia. On August 14, "Gangnam Style" ranked first on YouTube's 'Most Viewed Videos' monthly chart; on August 21, 2012, "Gangnam Style" officially charted No. 1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, overtaking Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me" and Katy Perry's "Wide Awake"; this feat was the first for a South Korean artist. After the video went viral, celebrities quickly jumped on board, with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise taking to Twitter to share their delight. The Gangnam Style phenomenon has also popularized his older music videos, such as "Right Now". On September 14, 2012, he appeared on The Today Show on NBC in New York City, performing the song live and teaching dance moves to the anchors. The following day, he also made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live during a skit featuring "Gangnam Style".

Riding high on the success of "Gangnam Style", Psy was signed by Scooter Braun to Braun's Schoolboy Records, a label distributed by Republic Records. In early September, the Gangnam district awarded Psy with a plaque and named him an honorary ambassador. On October 24, 2012, Psy was recognized by the United Nations as an "International sensation". According to Reuters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon scheduled a meeting with Psy in the belief that music has great power to overcome intolerance. On October 23, 2012, they met at the United Nations Headquarters where Ban expressed his desire to work with Psy. He remarked that Psy has an "unlimited global reach" and said, "I hope that we can work together using your global reach".

According to Korean newspaper The Dong-a Ilbo, Psy was appointed as a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

On November 7, 2012, Psy held a speech in England at the Oxford Union to discuss the inspiration behind "Gangnam Style" and his next album. He told the audience that due to the success of "Gangnam Style" he is now living in both a dream and a nightmare, as it will be difficult for his next song to equal "Gangnam Style"'s success. He also talked about his early life and the moment he realized "Gangnam Style" became famous. According to The Independent, tickets for his speech were "in such demand they had to be assigned by ballot—a method not required when former presidential candidate John McCain spoke earlier that year, nor when Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama nor Michael Jackson spoke".

On November 12, 2012, Psy became the second South Korean music artist to appear at the MTV Europe Music Awards where he performed "Gangnam Style" and held off competition from Rihanna, Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga to win the "Best Video" award. The event was broadcast worldwide and hosted by the German model and actress Heidi Klum, who introduced Psy to the audience as the "undisputed King of Pop". A few days later, American singer-songwriter Madonna performed a mashup of "Gangnam Style" and "Give It 2 Me" alongside Psy and her backup dancers during a concert in New York City at Madison Square Garden during The MDNA Tour. Psy later told reporters that his gig with Madonna had "topped his list of accomplishments".

On November 24, 2012, "Gangnam Style" became the most viewed video in YouTube history, surpassing the previous most-watched video, Justin Bieber's "Baby". The number of views was achieved about eleven times faster than Bieber's. Psy later won four awards at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong on November 30, 2012. On December 21, 2012, "Gangnam Style" reached 1 billion views on YouTube, becoming the first video to do so in the website's history. He met actor and stunt performer Jackie Chan, who called him a role model that proved that "dreams do come true". Also, he was selected as Singer of the Year in the public survey conducted by Gallup Korea that year.

In January 2013, Psy was announced as a winner of the 2013 Korea Image Awards, being awarded the Korea Image Stepping Stone Award for "his contribution to enhancing the national image". Psy made his debut on South American television by giving an interview on the Brazilian news program Fantástico. It was announced on January 27, 2013, that Psy would perform at South Korea's presidential inauguration ceremony on February 25, 2013.

2015–2018: Chiljip PSY-da, 4X2=8, and departure from YG Entertainment

On March 28, 2015, he released a music video for his song Father. On December 1, 2015, Psy released his seventh album titled Chiljip PSY-da, with double title tracks "Daddy" and "Napal Baji". The album included features from label mate CL as well as Will.i.am Promotions for the album included two performances on Inkigayo, where the single "Daddy" won a triple crown, as well as a performance on You Hee-yeol's Sketchbook. "Daddy" was also included in the dance video game Just Dance 2017.

In May 2017, Psy released his eighth studio album, 4X2=8, with lead singles "I Luv it" and "New Face". The album features collaborations from several artists including label-mates G-Dragon and Taeyang. The music video for "I Luv It" featured actor Lee Byung-hun and comedian Pikotaro while for the "New Face" video Apink's Son Na-eun played the title role.

On May 15, 2018, Psy officially left YG Entertainment after eight years.

2019–present: P Nation, Loud, and Psy 9th

In 2019, he founded his own label P Nation. He signed his first artist Jessi on January 25, 2019. Two days later, on January 27, 2019, he also signed both Hyuna and Dawn, formerly of Cube Entertainment with the latter being a former member of Pentagon under the name E'Dawn. He also signed Crush on July 17, 2019, and Heize on September 16, 2020. On April 26, 2021, it was reported that he and Park Jin-young, the founder of JYP Entertainment, will collaborate to form a new boy group each in Loud, which premiered on June 5, 2021, on SBS. In 2022, Psy did his first concert in Dubai as part of the Expo 2020 on Korean national day event.

On April 29, 2022, Psy released his ninth studio album, Psy 9th, with its lead single "That That" featuring Suga of BTS.

On June 10, 2022, Psy released the official SNS afternoon tour schedule of 'Psy Soak Show SUMMER SWAG 2022', a domestic tour of 7 cities in the country until August 20.

P Nation

Following Psy's departure from YG Entertainment in 2018, Psy founded his own entertainment company, P Nation. Psy announced the first artist signed to his label in January 2019, the rapper Jessi. P Nation then signed Hyuna and Dawn, both formerly of Cube Entertainment.

As of November 2022, the label had 10 artists signed to the label, including the six-member boy band, TNX. The record label is located in the Gangnam area.

Artistry

Park Jae-sang's stage name "Psy" derives from the word psycho. Explaining his stage name, he said in a BBC interview, "what I thought was, you know, crazy about music, dancing, performance, so that kind of psycho".

Influences

In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Psy called Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen his biggest musical influence: "My lifetime role model and hero is Freddie Mercury of Queen. His songwriting skills, I cannot even approach, but his showmanship, I learned it from videos. I'm No. 1 in the U.K. right now, so if I have any chance to go there, I want to meet Queen and to tell them how much I got inspired by their music." Psy also revealed that the one celebrity he wants to meet most is the American actor Tom Cruise, who helped popularize "Gangnam style" on Twitter and tweeted whether Psy would "make a good future co-star Gangnam Style?".

Legacy

During the span of his career, Psy was awarded multiple Guinness World Records for:

  • "Gangnam Style" – Most viewed video online
  • "Gangnam Style" – Most "liked" video online
  • "Gangnam Style" – First video to be viewed more than 1 billion times on YouTube
  • "Gentleman" – Most viewed video online in 24 hours
  • "Gangnam Style" – First video to be viewed more than 2 billion times on YouTube

As a result of his achievements, Psy is considered to be the first K-pop artist to make a breakthrough in the Western music industry. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Psy affirmed that "[i]t will be only a matter of time before K-Pop will produce many others like Psy".

According to Hugo Swire, the British Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Psy's music has given the world a glimpse of the dynamism and vibrancy of modern Korea. South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognized Psy's cultural achievements by bestowing upon him the Okgwan Order, a 4th grade Order of Cultural Merit.

On May 25, 2017, Psy was presented with a Diamond Play Button from YouTube, in recognition of his surpassing 10 million subscribers to his YouTube channel, making him the first Asian solo artist to ever do so.

Personal life

On October 14, 2006, Psy married Yoo Hye-yeon, a cello major at Yonsei University and his girlfriend of three and a half years. According to the Korean Broadcasting System, the couple were introduced by a mutual acquaintance. They have twin daughters. Psy considers "Gangnam Style" to be the greatest achievement of his life. Psy finalized the purchase of a condominium unit in Westwood, Los Angeles, California, in November 2012. Psy made the purchase to relocate to Los Angeles following his signing with US-based music manager Scooter Braun to further his career.

.....

In 2022, he moved back to South Korea to start a record label, located in Gangnam. He lives north of the river.

Views on North Korea

In the early 2010s, South Korea's Sunshine Policy towards North Korea was downscaled as tensions between the two countries continued to increase. As a result, Psy was questioned by the media on several occasions regarding his views on North Korea.

On April 13, 2013, Psy attended a press conference where he expressed regret about his country's conflict with North Korea and described the situation as a "tragedy". He also expressed hope that North Koreans would one day be able to enjoy his music before elaborating that his job is to make everyone, including North Koreans, laugh. Right before the start of a concert in Seoul, Psy added: "Tonight me and 50,000 Korean people... we are going to sing out loud. We are going to shout out loud and we are really close to them, so they [the North Koreans] can hear."

In an interview with The Daily Beast in April 2013, Psy was asked to give his take on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's threats against South Korea and the United States, to which he replied: "Well, as an entertainer, I don't want to talk about politics. As a Korean citizen, I want peace. That's all I can say. I want permanent peace."

Philanthropy

On August 11, 2022, Psy donated ₩100 million to help those affected by the 2022 South Korean floods through the Hope Bridge Korea Disaster Relief Association.

Reported earnings

According to Korea Times in 2013, Psy earned more than US$40 million in 2012 via sales through concerts, TV commercials, and social media revenue through his hit song Gangnam Style, while his estimated personal income in 2012 was US$28 million under his 7:3 profit-sharing contract with YG Entertainment.

Discography

  • Psy from the Psycho World! (2001)
  • Ssa2 (2002)
  • 3 Mai (2002)
  • Ssajib (2006)
  • PsyFive (2010)
  • Chiljip Psy-da (2015)
  • 4X2=8 (2017)
  • Psy 9th (2022)

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2002 ... Student Teacher Seok-Goo
Emergency Act 19 Himself
2016 From Vegas to Macau III Mr. Wong

Television

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2001 Beautiful Days Himself Cameo (episode 15)
2012 Dream High 2 Trainer Coach Cameo (episode 5)
Superstar K4 Judge
Saturday Night Live Himself, Lids/Gangnam Style Sketch Season 38 Episode 1
2013 Live! with Kelly and Michael Himself Two Shows within Two Weeks
2016 Heroes of Remix Mentor
2021 Loud Judge for P Nation
2023 Psy Soaking Show 2022 Himself Concert film

Music video appearances

A list of music videos that feature Psy in a guest or cameo role.

Year Music video Artist
2003 "애송이 ("Aesongi", "Novice Baby Boy")" Lexy
2012 "Ice Cream" Hyuna
2013 "DJ Play My Song (NO, LEAVE ME ALONE)" Schmoyoho
2020 "나로 바꾸자 Switch to me (duet with JYP)" Rain

Awards and nominations

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: PSY para niños

  • List of Billboard Social 50 number-one artists
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