Millions of YouTube- watchers know him as the adorable boy in Korean superstar Psy’s viral-hit music video Gangnam Style. But Hwang Min Woo is so ready to step out of its shadow.
At an interview with Life!, the eight-year-old assumes a rather sheepish look when asked about That Song.
He says in Korean via a translator: “I have danced to Gangnam Style at least 500 times already. I am really quite tired of dancing to the song.”
In town this week for an LG promotion, the youngster sounds quite the savvy media veteran when he says: “I hope to slowly step away from Gangnam Style, and start to focus on my own songs. I have a new single coming up called Showtime that I really enjoy singing and dancing to. It’s my song. Not Psy’s song.”
Photo: Nuria Ling
This debut single is slated for release next month.
Gangnam Style, the massive hit song featuring horse-riding-inspired dance moves, is the most-watched video on YouTube, with more than 1.3 billion views.
But so sick is he of Gangnam Style, that Hwang – nicknamed Little Psy for his roly-poly resemblance to the superstar – says that he performs the song only if he is hired to do so.
“People recognise me on the streets almost every day in Korea, and many always ask me to show them how to do the Gangnam Style dance. But I don’t do it, because I’m tired of it, and actually, I think other people are tired of it too. I’ll do it only if I have to, at a proper performance.”
A proper performance such as the one he did here on a makeshift stage on Orchard Road, alongside six children from arts education facility The Little Arts Academy.
In a black tuxedo with a single black and gold earring and slicked-back hair, he looked every bit a pop superstar at the interview.
In a slightly embarrassed manner, he even gestured to the photographer to stop taking unflattering photos when he started to yawn.
His behaviour could have come across as grating, had he not been packaged in such a tiny frame.
Even during the photo shoot, he seemed well ahead of his years and came off as a total media professional, easily offering a wide variety of slick poses for every camera click.
The only child of a Korean marriage counsellor father and a Vietnamese housewife mother, Hwang was discovered by Psy following a dance showcase on TV programme Korea’s Got Talent.
Reportedly, Psy had seen the boy’s performance only a day before the shooting of his music video but was so floored by the young talent that he insisted on getting him involved.
Asked if he and Psy are still in contact, Hwang says diplomatically with a chuckle: “As you know, Psy is a very busy man. His schedule is very full. And I am also a very busy person. So there isn’t much time for contact.”
Since shooting to fame, Little Psy has travelled to perform in China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the United States and the Philippines.
Though he admits to “feeling tired sometimes” on such trips, he is loving every minute of it.
“I get to travel and visit so many new places. Now that I’m in Singapore, I want to go shopping and just shop, shop, shop,” he says with a laugh, though he could not say what he wanted to buy.
There is also the pure joy of getting to just, well, dance.
“I really love dancing and performing. Sometimes, when we do recordings for videos, we have to record until 3 or 4am, so I get tired. But I go with it because I love it.”
The self-taught talent started dancing when he was only three, he says.
“When I was two years old, I was crying a lot, so my mum started playing songs on her phone. The minute the songs started, I would move to the music and stop crying. But once the song was over, I would cry again. That’s when my mum realised I had an interest in music and let me listen to more music.”
He started out by imitating moves from music videos by popular K-pop groups including Big Bang, Super Junior and Shinee before also getting in on Western imports Lady Gaga and Michael Jackson.
“A career in show business is what I really want. And eventually, I hope to be even more famous than Psy,” he says seriously.
At the end of the interview, he very politely and solemnly bows to this reporter and says “thank you”.
But as soon as the voice recorder is switched off, he turns off the pop star persona and becomes a child again, as he whips out his phone and happily starts playing a game.
Hwang Min Woo’s debut single Showtime is slated for release next month.
This article was first run in The Straits Times newspaper on February 28, 2013. For similar stories, go to sph.straitstimes.com/premium/singapore. You will not be able to access the Premium section of The Straits Times website unless you are already a subscriber.