Korean child star Hwang Min-woo, who first appeared in the video for Gangnam Style.

‘Little Psy’ taking steps towards big dreams

Korean child star who came to notice in video for Gangnam Style is building an international career as a performer

When Hwang Min-woo rose to stardom as “Little Psy” after appearing in the Korean singer’s record-breaking Gangnam Style music video in 2012, he was just seven. Four years on, Hwang is not so little any more.

The dance prodigy has not only grown physically, but his career has also started to kick off. When he recently performed for the Korean community in Los Angeles, he was picked up by a local agency training Vietnamese stars. Hwang is set to fly back for a performance in Los Angeles’ Little Saigon later this month. He is also a publicity ambassador for a multicultural festival to be held in Ho Chi Minh City at the end of this month, where he will put on a show.

But things were not always so rosy for Hwang. Considering his age, Hwang has already had his fair share of hardships. At the beginning of his career, after he starred on the local talent show Star King, he was bullied at school for his racial background. Hwang was born to a Korean father and Vietnamese mother.

Following his leap to stardom after Gangnam Style, he also suffered racial slurs online, prompting his agency to file a complaint against the perpetrators. And in February this year when Jun Min-woo, another boy also called “Little Psy” in China, died of brain cancer, many people mistook him for Hwang and bookings stopped for months.

But Hwang marched on. Now he performs at shows across South Korea, to the extent that at times it is physically demanding for the 11-year-old.

“Sometimes, when I have two to three shows in a day, I get home past midnight,” Hwang says. “I am tired but it is always exciting to go and perform. When I don’t have any shows, I am thinking about when my next show will be.”

Due to his busy schedule, Hwang misses school, but tries to keep up by taking private lessons.

Hwang’s father, who is acting as his manager, says he doesn’t worry about his son because “he is doing what he loves”.

Hwang is ‘doing what he loves’, says his father.

“On days he has a show, he wakes up earlier than I do,” the senior Hwang says. “Min-woo also choreographed the moves for his latest single Okie Dokie and taught them to his dancers. And after his music video’s initial shoot, he told the director he wanted a retake because he wasn’t satisfied.”

Hwang is now preparing to take a bigger leap – these days he is putting extra effort into learning English.

“Because of overseas shows, speaking English is a must for me,” he says, adding he is trying to learn Vietnamese and other languages as well. “Now my dream is to become a global singer,” Hwang says.