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How to Make it in America Gangnam Style

Updated on November 12, 2012

Unless you have been living under a rock lately, you have probably heard of South Koreas biggest export, 34 year old rapper Psy. For the past 12 years he has been making music and entertaining Koreans with moderate success, until one fateful day in July 2012 when he uploaded a video to YouTube for the song Gangnam Style.

It went viral! It had 500,000 hits the first day, and people were taking notice. At the time of writing it currently has almost 532 million views! That works out to about 61 views per second.

Times weren’t always so good for this Korean sensation. His first album was called The World of Psycho, and he was ordered to pay fines for inappropriate content. At times other albums were banned because they were deemed a negative influence on the younger population. The controversy seemed to continue. Gangnam style is from his sixth album, and is proving to be the turning point for Psy’s career.

He is known for his dance styles and reports to have spent over 30 hours creating this horseback riding move featured in the Gangnam Style video. Psy is well known for giving successful concerts, and has proved his entertainment abilities by all of the recent performances on American television shows such as The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and more recently Dancing with the Stars.

Gangnam is an area in Seoul, South Korea which boasts the most affluent society in the country. Seoul is the capital, and is a very large city with a population of about 10 million people. It is divided by the Han River, and Gangnam is on the south side of the river, one of 25 divisions. It is often compared to Beverley Hills California, as the cost of housing is roughly double other areas, and all of the highest end shops are located on their version of Rodeo Drive.

The Infamous Video that Started it All

Reasons He Succeeded

Reasons he succeeded

1. He speaks English relatively well. He apparently credits Hulk Hogan for this, as he was an avid wrestling fan growing up! He would study top American billboard hits, and learn the lyrics as well. Also he attended Boston University, and later Berklee School of Music.

It is surprising how well the song has done considering the amount of Korean in the lyrics.

2. He developed a quirky dance. Similar to the Chicken Dance, Macarena or other successful moves, he has instantly created a following. Fans are more inclined to watch the video over and over to master his moves!

3. His unique look. He is usually dressed in a suit or tuxedo like costume, which makes him more identifiable. He combines this with his sense of humor to attract and keep his fans.

4. He was picked up by Justin Beiber’s manager Scooter Braun. Enough said!

5. Most importantly he discovered YouTube. The US music industry considers this one of the most influential sites in this age of social media. It can bring success to someone overnight, and it is free! Psy has a new Guinness record for the most likes for his video. He surpassed Justin Beiber and Katy Perry to solidify his presence.

The last three months Psy has seen himself catapult into stardom. Now it will be up to him to do whatever he can to make sure he doesn’t turn into the world’s biggest one-hit wonder!!


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    • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      bizwin, yes I am surprised how many shows, even young kids shows, have worked this song into their episodes!

      truthfornow, I too was surprised to learn Gangnam is a real place in South Korea. It will be interesting to see if Psy can create more music to appeal to North Americans!

    • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      TravelinJack, I agree, the dance is what has helped this song become so successful. Now Psy has to get creative for his future songs to keep his momentum!

      Tammyswallow, thanks for looking!

    • bizwin profile image

      Christabel Evans 

      5 years ago from England, UK

      Nice research. The dance and the song is contagious. There are kids version in many children TV programs too.

    • truthfornow profile image


      5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      I guess this is the biggest hit from Korea to make it in America of all time. I can't even think of any other Korean songs. Interesting to know that Gangnam is a real place.

    • TravelinJack profile image

      Jack Baumann 

      5 years ago from St. Louis, Missouri

      I really like your analysis here, I especially agree with the quirky dance. It's that new kind of weird thing that seems to spread so quickly through the masses, remember Superman by Soulja Boy? Same thing.

    • tammyswallow profile image


      5 years ago from North Carolina

      This is really cute and creative. Love that catchy song!

    • kitkat1141 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      My kids are learning the moves for upcoming Halloween dances at school! I guess there could be worse things for them to focus their attention on... Thanks for reading!

    • CrisSp profile image


      6 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      So, you've been hit by the Gangnam Style virus as well, eh? Very catchy song, indeed and the dance is contagious. Well done!

      Entertaining read! Thanks.


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