A Gangnam Style financial bubble

Psy’s marketing prowess has landed him gigs for a dozen Korean companies, but can his smooth moves save plunging stocks?

Stock market analysts have been buzzing lately about “Gangnam Style” internet sensation Psy’s ability to send the share prices of some Korean companies soaring.

DI Corp., which makes equipment for the semi-conductor industry and is chaired by Psy’s father, Park Won Ho, has seen its stock price soar 500 per cent since the video featuring the 34-year-old singer’s bizarrely popular horse-riding dance became a huge hit on Youtube in July. (The video now stands at more than 600 million views.) The stock of YG Entertainment, Psy’s manager, nearly doubled between July and October.

But the real financial genius may be Psy’s marketing prowess. The singer is the spokesmodel for at least a dozen different Korean companies, from hawking Internet TVs for a subsidiary of LG, to dancing in front of refrigerators for Samsung. A year contract to have the singer promote a company’s brand reportedly tops $600,000.

Psy landed a contract with Nongshim, one of Korea’s largest ramen noodle companies, after uploading a video of himself to Youtube eating the company’s Shin Ramyun noodles and begging to be their spokesperson.

Sales of Hite-Jinro, one of Korea’s biggest beverage companies, spiked after Psy downed a bottle of the company’s soju, a popular Korean drink, during a concert in Seoul that was broadcast internationally. The singer is now reportedly in talks to become a spokesperson for them. It was conspicuous timing. Psy was previously a spokesperson for Oriental Brewery, Hite-Jinro’s chief competitor, until the company dropped his contract last November.

But there are signs the Gangnam Style financial bubble might be coming to an end. Shares in DI Corp have plunged nearly 40 per cent in the past two weeks. According to the Korea Times this month, investors who poured their money into DI Corp. shares since the summer have now started posting on Psy’s personal blog, demanding he do something to reverse the company’s falling stock price. “My father put all of his retirement grant into DI and now he is drinking soju in the living room, crying,” one wrote. “Psy, please help. One word from you will do.”

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