When Korean Rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" was first released here earlier this year, fans and critics were surprised to see their chubby-with-the-round-belly entertainer go so internationally viral.
While Psy's snowballing fame has guided him to the global spotlight, including a Sunday performance at the 2012 American Music Awards with MC Hammer, another Korean boy -- this one only 7 years old -- is "horse-riding" the wave of momentum left by Psy's travels abroad.
Hwang Min-Woo, a half-Korean and half-Vietnamese upstart known as "Little Psy," has left an indelible impression on the playground despite his brief, 10-second appearance in the introduction of Psy's "Gangnam Style" music video.
He's now dancing in domestic awards ceremonies as a special guest, going live on national television news and even shooting commercials for companies such as LG. His mounting popularity has even put him on stages overseas in the Philippines, Hong Kong and Los Angeles, for example
"It's really cool to see myself on television," Min-Woo said. "And when I walk down the streets, people recognize me. It's amazing."
Min-Woo was offered a role in the music video by Psy's manager after the singer spotted his dancing on a national television auditioning program last year, "Korea's Got Talent." Although he did not win the competition, his edgy dance moves, over-the-top facial expressions and powerful stage presence, unexpected for a child his age, has consistently kept him on Korean entertainment shows ever since.
"Psy seemed to be blown away when he first saw me dance on the set," Min-Woo said. "He kept encouraging me, saying 'Wow! You're really good!' and 'You're so awesome!'" he said, with a thumb in the air.
Min-Woo, who said he has been dancing since he was "young," 3, mentioned that his dance moves in Psy's music video were a mixture of his own choreography and that of Michael Jackson's. When asked which U.S. musicians he knew, he blurted "Michael Jackson" and then muttered the rest. "Was it -- Lady -- Gaga? Am I right? And -- Be -- Beyon -- ce?"
When Little Psy visited Los Angeles in September to dance on stage for a Korean festival, and then street-danced in Hollywood later on, he said he was stunned to see so many U.S. fans greet him.
"After my stage performance," he said, "10 huge American bodyguards came to protect me as people were about to run me over," adding, "I thought to myself: Am I the president?"
Full of aspiration, Little Psy vigorously pledged to become a global star, just like "Grown-up Psy," 34, whose real name is Park Jae-sang.
"One day, I'm going to be a famous singer like Psy," he said, before correcting himself. "No, I'm going to be more famous than him."