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10 Obscure Facts about “PSY,” the Gangnam star!

PSY facts

When one hears “Oppan Gangnam style,” their bodies immediately get ready to do the horse riding step! The song has gained immense popularity among people and even today, it is the sixth most-viewed video on YouTube. But there is very little that people know about the guy behind this sensational song. We bring to you 10 obscure facts about “PSY.”

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1. PSY’s name is Park Jae-sang. The stage name “PSY” has been derived from the word “psycho” by the singer himself.

Park Jae-sang
Image credit: Eva Rinaldi/Flickr

The creator of the sensational song “Gangnam Style” is known as PSY all across the world. But that’s not his real name which is quite obvious! PSY’s real name is Park Jae-sang. He belongs to an affluent family. His father owns a manufacturing company, and his mother owns several restaurants in the Gangnam district of Seoul, South Korea.

When Park started making music videos, he decided to have a stage name for himself. He derived the name from the word “psycho.” He has a very different take on the word.  In an interview with BBC, Park said he derived his name on the context “what I thought was, you know, crazy about music, dancing, performance, so that kind of psycho.” (source)

2. PSY’s love for music was sparked by “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the famous song by Queen. PSY first saw the band performing the song when one of their live concerts was aired on TV.

The queen band
Image source: queenlive.ca

During his school days, PSY attended the Banpo (반포) Elementary and Middle Schools and Sehwa (세화) High School. He never liked school. He was actually the class clown. Well, that’s quite believable! More than PSY disliking school, his teachers disliked him. One of his former teachers mentioned in an interview with South Korea’s Seoul Broadcasting System that PSY used to make sexual jokes in class. He used to drive the entire class crazy with his humorous jokes and the teachers were not so happy about it. But she added that looking back, she thought PSY added quite a lot of energy to the class.

The first time PSY got attracted to music was when he was watching a Koren TV program that aired foreign pop music. One particular episode was dedicated to the live concert of the band Queen. They performed their all-time hit song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” This was what sparked PSY’s love for music!

In an interview with The New York Times, PSY said, “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.” (source)

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3. The singer initially came to the US to study business administration so that he could look after his father’s business back home.

PSY college photo ID
Image source: maip23/reddit

Since PSY’s father owns a manufacturing company, PSY’s initial career move was to get a business degree. He planned to go back home to manage his family’s business. PSY entered Boston University in 1996, but as soon as he joined, he lost interest in his studies. He started spending more and more money on musical instruments.

As his music interest grew, he dropped out of Boston University and joined the Berklee College of Music. That didn’t work out either. So, PSY went back home to Korea to pursue a career in the music industry. And boy, that really worked out well! (source)

4. PSY ‘s debut album was fined by the Korean authorities for containing inappropriate content. His second album was banned from being sold to kids under 19 years of age. Despite that, he won several awards for both his albums.

Cover of the album “Psy from the Psycho World!” and the second one “Sa 2 PSY” Image source: 1, 2

PSY made his first appearance on South Korean television in 2000. In 2001, he released his first full-length album  Psy from the Psycho World! The first album created a lot of controversies that resulted in heavy fines from the South Korean government. The government found the lyrics in the songs to be inappropriate, but PSY’s album brought in a new era of pop music to Korea. The blunt song lyrics, the peculiar dancing, and the unusual appearance of PSY earned him the name “The Bizarre Singer.”

The same thing happened for his second album, Sa 2, as well. Civil groups believed that PSY’s songs would have a negative influence on kids and teenagers, so, the sale of his album was banned for kids under 19 years of age. Despite all the controversies, PSY went on to win awards at the Seoul Music Awards. This marked his entry into the Korean music industry. (source)

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5. PSY initially didn’t like the idea of uploading “Gangnam Style” to YouTube as he felt he would be humiliated since he didn’t have any international fans.

PSY Gangnam Style
Image Credit: officialpsy/youtube

PSY was a sensation in Korea, but prior to “Gangnam Style,” he didn’t have much international exposure, so he was quite a skeptic about releasing the video on YouTube. PSY mentioned in an interview that “I didn’t even know what YouTube was back then. Some friends of mine told me to upload the MV, but I said that it would be a humiliation if the views were too low, since I didn’t have any international fans. So, I told them ‘Let’s not upload this’.”

But, when his friends forced him, PSY uploaded the video just for fun, and a month later, Gangnam Style made the entire world dance to its music. PSY described the moment as “it all felt like a hidden camera prank.” (source)

6. “Gangnam Style” became the first video on YouTube to garner a billion views. The video kept getting so many views that YouTube had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer-based counter. Also, the video made PSY’s family rich by $28 million!

Gangnam style video youtube views
Image Credit: Gangnam Style’s current views as of December 14, 2018/ YouTube

Before “Gangnam Style, “YouTube had never had a video that garnered a billion views. On November 24, 2012, “Gangnam Style” exceeded Justin Beiber’s “Baby” to become the most-viewed video in YouTube history. Then on December 21,  2012, it exceeded 1 billion views. YouTube was not prepared for that. They never anticipated that a music video could get so many views!

When the views kept increasing, YouTube’s view-counter overflowed and started showing a negative number! YouTube made a public comment saying, “We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!” After this comment was released, a YouTube representative said that the comment was a joke and they had actually updated their counter system months ago. But, did they?

On the other hand, Psy’s father, Park Won-ho, owns a manufacturing company that makes semiconductor-related equipment. When “Gangnam Style” became a sensation, the value of the shares of the company doubled. In 2012, it went on to become the 459th most valuable stock in the world, measured by size. PSY’s father made $17 million while PSY’s brother made $11 million. (1, 2)

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7. The term “Gangnam Style” refers to the trendy and hip lifestyle that the people of the Gangnam district in Seoul, Korea, follow. But PSY’s song has nothing to do with that. According to him, his song is a humorous take on people who try to be something that they are clearly not. 

Gangnam Style origin
Image Credit: officialpsy/youtube

“Gangnam Style” is a colloquial term. According to Time magazine’s weekly vocabulary list, the term describes the “manner associated with lavish lifestyles in Seoul’s Gangnam district.” But PSY’s song doesn’t even come close to the high-class trendy lifestyle that the term portrays. PSY took a humorous take on the term. He said in an interview that, “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 very hard to be something that they’re not.”

The phrase in PSY’s song, Oppan Gangnam style, can be roughly translated to “Big Brother is Gangnam Style.” So basically, here PSY is referring to himself as the big brother. (source)

8. There was a popular belief that the world would end when PSY’s “Gangnam Style” would get a billion views. That didn’t happen, but the video reached a billion views on December 21, 2012 – the date when the world was predicted to end!

Nostradamus
The Portrait of Michel de Nostredame (Nostradamus) via Wikipedia, The title page of Les Prophéties of Nostradamus via Wikipedia

Coincidence? Even if not, it is still creepy! We all know of Nostradamus and how, over the years, most of his predictions have come true. His predictions on the end of the world went something like this, “From the calm morning, the end will come when of the dancing horse the number of circles will be nine.”

Let’s break down the prophecy to understand what led people to link it to PSY’s “Gangnam Style.” Korea is known as the “Land of the Morning Calm.” Clearly Nostradamus’s “From the calm morning, the end will come” could translate to “Korea is the origin of the end of the world.”

The second part of the prophecy refers to “number of circles will be nine” which can easily be the 1 billion YouTube views on PSY’s music video. Also, it talked about “the dancing horse” which people thought referred to PSY’s eccentric dance moves! And surprisingly, the video crossed a billion views on December 21, 2012, the last date on the Mayan calendar. The world was supposed to end that day! But, praise God, it didn’t so that we could enjoy “Gangnam Style” a bit longer. (1, 2)

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9. PSY’s speech at the Oxford Union in England had such a high demand that tickets had to be assigned by ballot. This was not required even when Mother Teresa, Michael Jackson, or the Dalai Lama came to speak!

The chambers of the Oxford Union once resonated with the voices of the great Gladstone, Sir Winston Churchill, and Mother Teressa. But on November 2012, it was the Gangnam star PSY who made an appearance at the Oxford Union. There was so much rush to book a ticket to his talk that ticket ballots had to be set up in the compound. People there said that ballots were not required when even Michael Jackson and Mother Teressa came to speak. Well, that is something!

Most of the students came to the talk in white tie and uniform, not knowing what to expect. But PSY captivated his audience with his life story and how he came about making “Gangnam Style.” (source)

10. PSY has a heavy drinking problem. Once he stated that the only time he isn’t drinking is when he is hung over. Also, early in his career, he was jailed 25 days for the possession of marijuana.

PSY's drinking problems
Image Credit: PSY – Hangover ft. Snoop Dog/Youtube

In an interview with The Sunday Times in 2013, PSY came clean about his drinking problem. He said, “If I’m happy, I’m drinking. If I’m sad, I’m drinking. If it’s raining, I’m drinking. If it’s sunny, I’m drinking.” He even called vodka his best friend. The only time he is not drinking is when he is hung over.

He also admitted having been arrested in 2001 for the possession of marijuana. He had to spend 25 days in jail because of which he could not attend his grandfather’s funeral. PSY added, “As an artist, the more experience, the better the creation. I’m a very positive person. So if s**t happens, I think maybe this happens because a huge amount of happiness is coming to me.” (1, 2)

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