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Oppan Gangnam Style! Psy comes home to Korea in triumph.

Park Jae-sang, better known as 'Psy', played a free concert last night in Seoul after his viral hit song 'Gangnam Style' broke YouTube records and shot him to international stardom.

By Donald KirkCorrespondent / October 5, 2012

Singer Psy performs at the Seoul Plaza in front of Seoul city hall October 4. About 80,000 fans gathered to cheer Psy on at a free concert staged to thank fans in Seoul. The quirky dance track 'Gangnam Style' became a global sensation after it broke YouTube records and shot him to international stardom.

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

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SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA

The figure on the sprawling stage was barely visible to most of the 80,000 people massed on the Seoul City Hall plaza but came through far larger than life on three huge screens high above.

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“Psy, Psy,” they yelled as he appeared from the shadows of the set. The K-pop – or Korean pop music – star, whose real name is Park Jae-sang, launched into two hours of prancing, singing, and rapping backed up by a dozen dancers.  

“I knew one of these K-pop stars would hit the world,” Psy tells his cheering audience, “but I didn’t know it would be me.”

It was, in fact, a homecoming welcome for an overnight sensation whose “Gangnam Style,” a paean to the lush life in Korea’s richest district, is topping the charts in the US and Britain and is heard and seen on screens all over Korea. 

“He said if ‘Gangnam Style’ hit the Billboard chart, he would have a concert in front of a crowd in Seoul City Hall Plaza,” says Lauren Suk, an official in the new glass-walled city hall that looms above the plaza. “He wanted to keep his word. This is an iconic place.”

How is it that K-pop, so fluffy and repetitive, has caught on globally?

“The music and style is very upbeat and fun without the usual western cynicism and overt sexuality,” says Mark  Russell, author of “Pop Goes Korea,” a book about the K-pop phenomenon. “The videos and fashion and dancing are super-splashy and over the top.”

Braggadocio and self-deprecation

Psy, he says, embodies this spirit of K-pop – though not entirely.

He may be “unusual for a star in terms of appearance,” says Mr. Russell. But “his music is light, catchy, and fun” mixing “braggadocio with slightly self-deprecating lyrics.”

The son of a wealthy businessman who lives in Gangnam, Psy went to the US to study management at Boston University, then switched to music at the Berklee College of Music. He graduated from neither but learned to synthesize American and Korean pop music influences into the K-pop melange.

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