On October 23, 2012, Psy met UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at the United Nations Headquarters where Ban expressed his desire to work with the singer because of his "unlimited global reach". On December 21, 2012, his music video for "Gangnam Style" exceeded 1 billion views on YouTube, becoming the first and currently only video to do so in the website's history. Psy was subsequently recognized by the media as the "King of YouTube".
In December 2012, MTV noted Psy's rise from little-known to "global superstar", and, for being first in the YouTube-era to secure a place in pop-culture history, hailed the singer as the "Viral Star of 2012". On December 31, 2012, Psy performed in a globally televised New Year's Eve celebration with American rapper MC Hammer on-stage in front of a live audience of over a million people in Times Square, New York City.
Park Jae-sang was born on December 31, 1977, to an affluent family in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea. His father, Park Won-Ho, is the executive chairman of DI Corporation, a manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment listed on the Korea Exchange. His mother, Kim Young-hee, owns several restaurants in Gangnam. Park attended Banpo (반포) Elementary and Middle Schools and Sehwa (세화) High School. He disliked school and bothered some of his classmates, although he also sometimes made them laugh. In an interview on South Korea's Seoul Broadcasting System, a former teacher of Park said "I remember Psy making a lot of sexual jokes during class. He had such a big influence that he would drive the entire class to his jokes. I disliked him at the time, but looking back, I see that he added a great energy to the class." Park told CNN's Alina Cho that when he was 15 years old, he watched a Korean TV programme that introduced foreign pop music. One particular episode showed a concert at Wembley Stadium held by the British rock band Queen where they performed their 1975 hit single "Bohemian Rhapsody". Park said it was this concert footage that sparked his love for music.
As part of preparations to take over DI Corporation from his father, Park had originally planned to study business administration at Boston University in 1996. However, upon his arrival in the United States, he lost interest in his studies, spending his remaining tuition funds on musical instruments and entertainment equipment, including a computer, an electric keyboard, and a MIDI interface. After attending an English-language summer course and studying for one semester, Park dropped out of Boston University and applied to study at Berklee College of Music instead. During his time at Berklee, Park took core curriculum lessons in ear training, contemporary writing and music synthesis, but he soon dropped out and returned to South Korea to pursue a career as a singer, without having attained a degree from either Boston University or Berklee. In South Korea, Psy made his first appearance on Korean national television in 2000 after his dancing caught the eye of a TV producer.