What happened to Psy after the success of Gangnam Style?

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Psy backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Psy backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles. (Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

This article is part of Yahoo's 'On This Day' series.

He was the man who had the whole world doing outlandish steps and mimicking cowboys on dance floors.

On this day in 2012, Korean pop sensation Psy became the first music act to reach one billion views on YouTube as his smash hit Gangnam Style stormed every device in the world.

But little has been heard of the singer outside of his native South Korea since – so what has happened to him in the years since launching the catchiest song of the decade.

Park Jae-sang, now 43, had been expected to follow in his father’s footsteps as an executive at his semiconductor company DI, but fell in love with electronic music when he went to the USA to study in Boston.

Psy shows off the unforgettable dance moves of Gangnam Style in the 2012 viral hit. (YouTube)
Psy shows off the unforgettable dance moves of Gangnam Style in the 2012 viral hit. (YouTube)
South Korean singer Psy (R) practises some
Psy practises some "Gangnam Style" dance steps with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the U.N. headquarters in New York. (REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

He returned to Seoul where he launched his first album in 2001, and became notorious for controversial lyrics, unconventional dance moves and a unique image.

He enjoyed a decade of steady success at home in Korea, but never troubled the international markets until his sixth album was unleashed in July 2012.

The record, PSY6, contained his newest single, a satire about a posh and trendy area of Seoul, Gangnam. It spread around the world instantly.

Weeks later he was on The Today Show on American network NBC, then Saturday Night Live, and after shooting up the iTunes chart, was embraced around the world.

Watch: Robots dance to PSY’s Gangnam Style at Tourism Japan EXPO

The key ingredient to the catchy number was the video with his carefully choreographed horsey style dance which was just funny enough to get attention and just easy enough for the world to follow.

He was soon being recognised by the UN for his cultural impact – he was invited to meet then UN general secretary, and fellow South Korean countryman, Ban Ki-moon.

Psy was made an ambassador for Unicef and broke records at an Oxford Union speech before rocking the MTV Europe Music Awards in November, where Heidi Klum described him as the ‘King of Pop’ when he won Best Video.

Awards flooded in, and then on December 21, he had the honour of the first video to hit the billion view mark on YouTube.

A magnifying glass shows the number of times that viewers have watched South Korean rapper Psy's video Gangnam style on YouTube on December 21, 2012. Psy's
Psy's video Gangnam style became the first video to hit a billion views on YouTube on December 21, 2012 (THOMAS COEX/AFP via Getty Images)

He’s never quite been able to live up to the success of that quadruple platinum hit – not many could – but in the nine years since he has been steadily working in the music world.

His follow up singles like Gentleman and Father were respectable hits, but he’s been most successful in the business side of music, following his global smash. He even collaborated with Ed Sheeran for a 2015 release.

Park founded music agency P-Nation in 2019 to mentor and support other artists in the K-pop phenomenon, with artists including Jessi, Hyuna, Dawn and Crush.

He is also a family man, married to wife Yoo Hye-yeon for 15 years, with twin teenage daughters.

Earlier this year, his reign of having the biggest Korean chart hit of all time was ended by K-pop icons BTS, with their single Dynamite.

But he has still been estimated to have a net worth of up to $65m following years of plays, streams, YouTube hits, endorsement deals, advertising deals and his own business.

Watch: On This Day: 21 December 2012

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