In South Korea, K-Pop Gets New King | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
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In South Korea, K-Pop Gets New King

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For 12 years, Park Jae-Sang — better known to his fans as the rapper PSY — has had a successful career in his native South Korea.

But now, thanks to the viral video for Gangnam Style, his new single, he's on top of the world.

With 180 million views and counting, it's the most-viewed Korean pop music video in YouTube's history. He's appeared on Ellen, NBC's Today Show, the MTV Video Music Awards; he's signed a deal with Justin Bieber's manager, Scooter Braun — and just today, Gangnam Style hit number one on the U.S. iTunes singles chat.

PSY spoke to weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz about his new success, and whether he's going to take Justin Beiber to Gangnam and celebrate in style.

"We just promise that we're gonna drink all night long," he says.


Interview Highlights

On overnight success

"I am still [surprised] everyday. I just made my album. I did my best. And I uploaded the video just to YouTube. That was all. And within 60 days I am here [doing an] interview with you. [...] I have a lot of interviews, and you are asking some things I've got to answer quickly. So I have to translate all of my answers in my brain. Right now, I am so tired because I've had to wake up early from doing the Today Show. But you know, after all of this I am not going to go to sleep tonight. I'm gonna go get some drinks."

On what 'Gangnam Style' is

"Gangnam is a territory in Seoul, Korea. I describe it as noble at the daytime and going crazy at the night time. I compare ladies to the territory. So — noble at the daytime, going crazy at the night time — and the lyric says I am the right guy for the lady who is like that."

On the story behind the dancing kid in his music video

"You have that program called America's got talent, right? In Korea we have Korea's got talent, and the boy came from Korea's got talent. He is 5 years old, but you know what, he started [doing] all of the Michael Jackson moves when he was 3. I am going to bring the kid [to the U.S.] sometime. Next visit."

On the perils of fame via viral video

"A week ago I was saying, 'Hey. I'm going to promote myself.' Because [my] music video is much more popular than I am — I don't like the situation. But in [the last] week, especially since Ellen and [the] Today Show, when I am walking down the street some [people] recognize me, finally. So me and Scooter are thinking — should we prepare for the next single, or something? We are beginning to make that kind of conversation about my next step."

On recording in English and K-Pop in the US

"I gotta think about it. Because I can speak English, but still — if I have a chance I want my music lyric[s] to be Korean. Because Gangnam Style is working right now. The world's most famous and popular language is music. So if we have some sort of solution with these kinds of dance moves and this kind of music video so that I can use Korean if possible? It's really huge history for my country. So I'm thinking about that, too."

On a possible collaboration with Justin Bieber, who shares the same manager

If [the] song fits us? And it's suitable for both of us? Why not?

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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