8 Interesting Facts About South Korean Singer “PSY”
In 2012, Psy shot to international fame after releasing “Gangnam Style.” The single, released from his sixth studio album Psy 6 (Six Rules), sold millions of copies and made him a household fixture, but since his tremendous success, Psy—whose real name is Park Jae-sang—has all but disappeared. Let’s find out what this earworm has been up to?
1.He shattered YouTube records
Psy’s cross-over international single, “Gangnam Style,” earned him a myriad of accolades—perhaps none more prestigious than creating the first music video in history to earn one billion views, according to the Guinness World Records. At the time of this writing, it had been viewed more than 2.6 billion times. Psy picked up another recognition with his follow-up single, “Gentleman.” That song’s video became the highest-viewed video in a 24-hour period, with 38 million views. It’s fair to say that even though Psy may not be considered a musical icon, his record-setting fame blitz has cemented his music into the pop culture annals.
2.He rapped about torturing and killing U.S. soldiers
In 2012, shortly after Psy’s climb to fame, a 2004 video surfaced of the singer calling for the deaths of American soldiers, reported CNN. The controversial (and profane) lyrics are part of the protest song “Dear America,” which was written by South Korean rock band N.EX.T. In the song, Psy raps the following lines (via New York magazine): “Kill those f**king Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives / Kill those f**king Yankees who ordered them to torture / Kill their daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers / Kill them all slowly and painfully.” Not exactly the party anthem he’s become known for.
In a statement, Psy profusely apologized for his language, claiming it was an emotional response to the Iraq war and the death of two young Korean girls killed by a U.S. military vehicle. “I understand the sacrifices American servicemen and women have made to protect freedom and democracy in my country and around the world,” read the statement, in part, via CNN. “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. I will forever be sorry for any pain I have caused by those words. While it’s important that we express our opinions, I deeply regret the inflammatory and inappropriate language I used to do so.”
3.He tried to keep the peace between North and South Korea
Psy’s K-Pop style of music certainly raised many eyebrows across the globe, and it’s probably safe to assume that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un doesn’t appreciate his brand of music. When asked how he felt about the dictator’s threats to destroy both South Korea and America, Psy played it cool. “Well, as an entertainer I don’t want to talk about politics,” he told The Daily Beast. “As a Korean citizen, I want peace. That’s all I can say. I want permanent peace. I want the North and South to be good, to be safe. In the near future we are expecting all these tragedies, and I just hope everything gets figured out very calm, and safe, and nice, and easily.”
4.He drinks, a lot
While Psy was enjoying the spotlight and all the perks that come with fame, he was also battling a dark side. In 2013, he confessed to The Sunday Times that he was an alcoholic. His attitude about drinking proved to be shocking, in light of the constant positive press surrounding his name. “If I’m happy, I’m drinking, if I’m sad, I’m drinking,” he said. “If it’s raining, I’m drinking, if it’s sunny, I’m drinking.” He claims the only time he’s not attached to booze is “when I’m hungover.” His beverages of choice include whiskey, vodka, and tequila. The interview also exposed his constant smoking, something that’s thought to ruin a star’s voice. At the time of this writing, it was unclear if he ever sought professional help for his drinking addiction.
5.’I’m not an Adele’
In December 2015, Psy released his long-awaited seventh studio album, Chiljip PSY-Da. Aware it would be nearly impossible to top his previous record, Psy reportedly felt immense pressure to succeed and fell into a dark depression. “I’m not an Adele,” he told Entertainment Weekly. “After ‘Gangnam Style,’ I was really happy but sometimes I was not happy, because that’s my lifetime biggest song and I’m not going to top that song forever. For a while, I kind of felt a little bit of pressure, like, ‘How can I top that one?’ I thought about being me, not the ‘Gangnam’ guy, or whatever. I was focused on finding myself.”
Though the album didn’t make waves Stateside, Psy’s new K-pop singles were well received at the 2015 Mnet Asian Music Awards.
6.He became a tourism ambassador
After putting South Korea in the spotlight, the country tapped him to be its tourism ambassador in 2013, according to CNN. In lieu of a hefty payday, the pop star accepted minimum payment. Psy’s appointment replaced Kenny G, who oddly enough was the face of South Korean tourism in 2012. At the time, Psy wasn’t a stranger to important duties, as he had held the same honorary title for Seoul’s Gangnam district in 2012. His appointment also opened doors for other business deals to come—most notably, his ambassadorship for Asiana Airlines for 2013.