I’m A Professional Psy Impersonator

Derrick Kim is a veteran Sydney based Creative Director with one of the weirdest part-time jobs we’ve ever heard of, impersonating the millennial generation’s version of Lou Bega (look him up people born in the 90s), Psy, a service for which he receives money, international travel opportunities and the advances of middle aged Psy fans he hasn’t met before. We recently caught up with Derrick to discuss how Syp (Psy scrambled) was born, exploiting gullible Kings Cross bar staff and his firsthand insight into the experience of being a famous person (Hint: it’s pretty fucking awesome!).   

Hey Derrick, how’s your day been? What’s your day job?
I work in an advertising agency as a Creative Director, so I do advertising work and look after clients and think up campaigns… stuff like that.

And what do you colleagues make of your part-time job? They think it’s hilarious. There’s no one actually doing this. They’re playing, you know, in bands and stuff like that but there’s no one going out and performing this way. The agency loves it and it’s great work. It’s beyond just advertising as well. The reaction of the creative people that I’ve met so far is quite overwhelming. They can’t believe what’s happening. They can’t believe I can actually pull this off.

So how did it first start? It was kind of weird. It all started when the Gangnam style music video came out. My friends were making a joke like ‘Did you get a part time job or something? Did you do this music video?’. It all kind of started from there. People said when the song came out, it reminded them of me. People kept saying stuff like, ‘That guy looks so much like you, is that your brother?’ It started from there. So I didn’t take it too seriously. I was like, yeah whatever. We have a Korean tourism agency as a client and they held this function at Darling Harbour. And our client said a few comments saying I should pretend to be Psy, sort of like a joke, like a special guest appearance so she might’ve thought I looked like him as well so I kind of had this thought to get some stuff together. I bought this black suit, bow tie. Then Wednesday we met with our CEO in his office, he’s really old, he’s got white hair, he’s got a tough look on his face. He said let’s go, me as your security guard, and you as Psy. So we kind of had a deal there. People started going ‘Oh, look that’s Psy. Hey Psy!’ And we went to Darling Harbour, and people were confused and staring. And this point I started feeling like, ‘Oh, this is weird’.

Then what happened? Then we went inside to the function room and this lady comes up to me and she goes oh, are you for the meeting? And then my CEO goes ‘Oh, yes he is’. Then the security guard kept following me. And then they wanted to take a photo. And then from that point on, everybody in the room wanted to take a photo. And then people were going ‘oh that’s him’. Because, I think Psy was arriving two weeks later for X Factor. And everyone just thought he had arrived early. So everyone was taking photos and I was just thinking oh my god, this is so hilarious.

Then we went into the meeting and they introduced me as Psy so I went up on the stage. I wasn’t up to scratch on the dance. I knew it, so I did it. I was pretty bad. I didn’t really know how to do it. Koreans kind of stared at me because they know what he looks like. After that, I was like ‘Oh fuck, I guess they know’. But even after I left they still wanted a photo. I think about 80% thought I was real.

After that I was like, ‘Oh, there’s something in this, this is so cool’. I saw that Psy was coming to Sydney to perform for Sunrise in Martin Place. I thought ‘Oh, this could be a good chance’. So, I got dressed up and I got all the stuff and I went there at 6am and I walked in. There was a man standing there from Sunrise with a camera and headphones standing there and then he saw me and he was like ‘Oh my god. Hey, come here! Come here!’. So I went there and I got introduced to Larry Emdur and then everyone in the crowd wanted to take a photo. I don’t know how many thought I was real or not real but…

I ended up being followed. After that I was approached by godaddy.com to play their end of year party. It’s massive. They said we want you to be here. So I went there. they gave me a hotel and everything paid for. So I went and performed for two parties and everyone thought I was real. After the performance I went to a VIP party. And I called and asked for two professional bodyguards. They all thought I was real.

If I’m going to book you for a gig what does impersonating Psy actually entail?
Well it would be the whole performance, Gangstam Style. It’s in Korean so I can sing dance and everything just like him, you know, you can’t really tell the difference. And also I can sort of impersonate how he speaks in broken English. Like ‘Oh, the Harbour Bridge is very nice… Where can I get Australian beer?’ I fooled these two girls all day by talking like that. One of my friends lost his relationship because he told her that I was real. And then he told her later that I wasn’t real and she got really upset by this.

Do you practice? Like do you train to be Psy?
Yeah. It comes kind of natural to me. I don’t know why. I look like him, I speak like him, I can sing and dance like him, we
have a similar physique. I’ve sung before like, I’ve always been a
singer, so singing is not very hard for me at all. People find it hard because you have to be quite coordinated. It’s harder than it looks. It’s very simple but you’ve got to think about a lot of things. I film myself and then I look at it, and think ‘Okay, I’ve got to do this better’.

What’s your favourite fan story from someone who thought you were Psy? The funny one was at a restaurant, I dressed up as him I was with two of my friends; both ladies. And this little kid came close to me so her mum gave her a bit of paper and a pen and she said could you do an autograph for me and I was like ‘Oh shit, I cant do his autograph’ because I Googled it before and I couldn’t find it. So I actually created it on the spot. So I did it and gave it to her and she was like ‘Thank you!’ So that kid probably takes that autograph and has it on her wall or something. I just feel really bad about that. On the flip side there was one girl who gave me her room number. That was pretty funny. She was like ‘Yeah, come to my room’.

What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve gotten away with under the guise of being Psy?
I got into a Kings Cross nightclub once with my friend because we acted it
out. We got in and they got us a VIP area and they took photos of us.
Then we had to get out just in case we got caught. I probably can’t go back there, they probably know by now. I think word got out
in Bondi and now it’s like an urban legend.

Can you talk us through the perverse kind of thrill you get when you impersonate Psy? It’s kind of like a simulation of fame without any of the drawbacks. You’ve actually get a legitimate insight into what it’s like to be a famous person. Yeah I’m actually experiencing what he’s experiencing. So what’s fascinating is that it’s different lives. Like people want to take a photo with you and tell you how much they love you. And the interesting thing is how much he reaches out to everyone. It doesn’t matter, you know, the Asian community, the gay community. They tell me how much their kids love me, like the parents, and they’ll take a photo with me too. I went to a kid’s party once and the kids knew how to dance to the song, Gangnam Style. And I did a Christmas kid’s party event in Kingsford. They were screaming like teenage girls, all the kids. So that was really fascinating. And the treatment you get. They give you free drinks wherever you go. They treat you better. They talk to you differently. And you get better everything. Better seats. They really want to look after you. They’re fascinated by you. It’s really different. Good life.

Derrick (SYP) will next perform as the halftime entertainment for the Sydney Kings at the Crown Kingdome, Sydney Entertainment Centre on February 9th.

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