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Psy 3, 2013.jpg
Psy performing at Future Music Festival in Sydney, March 9, 2013
Background information
Birth namePark Jae-sang (박재상, 朴載相)
Born(1977-12-31) December 31, 1977 (age 35)
Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea
OriginSouth Korea
GenresK-pop, Korean hip hop, dance, hip house, synthpop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, dancer, choreographer, record producer
Years active1999–present
LabelsBidman, LNLT Entertainment, YG Entertainment, YGEX, Avex Trax, Republic, Schoolboy
Associated acts2NE1, BIGBANG, Lee Hi, Epik High, YG Family, Scooter Braun
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Psy 3, 2013.jpg
Psy performing at Future Music Festival in Sydney, March 9, 2013
Background information
Birth namePark Jae-sang (박재상, 朴載相)
Born(1977-12-31) December 31, 1977 (age 35)
Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea
OriginSouth Korea
GenresK-pop, Korean hip hop, dance, hip house, synthpop
OccupationsSinger-songwriter, dancer, choreographer, record producer
Years active1999–present
LabelsBidman, LNLT Entertainment, YG Entertainment, YGEX, Avex Trax, Republic, Schoolboy
Associated acts2NE1, BIGBANG, Lee Hi, Epik High, YG Family, Scooter Braun
Birth name
Revised RomanizationBak Jae-Sang
McCune–ReischauerPak Chaesang
Stage name
Revised RomanizationSsayi

Park Jae-sang (born December 31, 1977), better known by his stage name Psy (Korean: 싸이, IPA: [s͈ai]; English: /ˈsaɪ/ SY), stylized PSY, is a South Korean singer, songwriter, rapper, dancer, record producer and television personality. Psy is known domestically for his humorous videos and stage performances, and internationally for his hit single "Gangnam Style." The song's refrain "Oppan Gangnam Style" (translated as "Big brother is Gangnam style", with Psy referring to himself)[1][2] was entered into The Yale Book of Quotations as one of the most famous quotes of 2012.[3]

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".[4] 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.[5][6] Psy was subsequently recognized by the media as the "King of YouTube".[7][8][9]

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".[10] 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.[11][12]

Psy has been added to Encyclopædia Britannica, the oldest English-language Encyclopedia still produced, as South Korean singer and rapper.[13]


Biography [edit]

1977–95: Early life [edit]

Park Jae-sang was born on December 31, 1977, to an affluent family in the Gangnam District of Seoul, South Korea.[14] His father, Park Won-Ho, is the executive chairman of DI Corporation, a manufacturer of semiconductor manufacturing equipment listed on the Korea Exchange.[15] His mother, Kim Young-hee, owns several restaurants in Gangnam.[16]

Park attended Banpo (반포) Elementary and Middle Schools and Sehwa (세화) High School.[17] 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."[18]

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.[19]

1996–2000: Brief study in the United States and career beginnings [edit]

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.[20] However, upon his arrival in the United States, he lost interest in his studies,[21] spending his remaining tuition funds on musical instruments and entertainment equipment, including a computer, an electric keyboard, and a MIDI interface.[22] 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.[23][24][25]

In South Korea, Psy made his first appearance on Korean national television in 2000 after his dancing caught the eye of a TV producer.[26]

2001–02: Psy from the Psycho World!, controversy, and domestic success [edit]

In January 2001, Psy debuted his full-length album Psy from the Psycho World!, for which he was fined by South Korean government authorities due to his album's "inappropriate content".[27] Psy was a rookie hip hop singer that stirred up the Korean pop music scene with very blunt lyrics, peculiar dance moves and an unconventional appearance that earned him the nickname "The Bizarre Singer".[28][29][30]

His second album Sa 2 also created controversy upon its release in 2002, earning complaints from civil groups due to the potentially negative influence his album would have on children and teenagers. Since then, Psy has been thought of as a controversial artist, and Sa 2 was banned in 2002 from being sold to the under-19 set. In September of the same year, Psy released his third album 3 Psy. The album's title song, "Champion", saw great success partly due to the hype from the World Cup games held in Seoul. Despite the significant amount of controversy surrounding his music, Psy was awarded songwriting accolades at the annual Seoul Music Awards, marking his breakthrough in the South Korean music industry.[31]

2003–09: Military service, Sa Jib, and re-enlistment [edit]

In 2003, Psy was enlisted in the South Korean military as part of mandatory military service imposed on all South Korean men aged 18 to 35.[32][33] Psy was excused from military duty due to working at a software developing company (the South Korean government grants those with technical expertise work in companies that serve the national interest). He was expected to be released from duties in 2005.[34] In 2006, Psy released his fourth album Sa Jib, which won honors at the 2006 SBS Music Awards and Hong Kong's Mnet Asian Music Awards.[31]

In 2007, state prosecutors accused Psy of "neglecting" his work, holding concerts and appearing on local television networks during his period of prior employment.[35] On October 12, 2007, the Seoul Administrative Court decided that Psy must be redrafted, rejecting a lawsuit filed by Psy against the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) in August. Two months later, Psy was re-drafted into the military where he had held the rank of Private First Class and served as a signalman in the 52nd Army Infantry Division, before being released from duties in July 2009.[36][37]

2010–12: 5th studio album and debut performance in Japan [edit]

Owing to financial difficulties, Psy could no longer release his own songs. His wife encouraged him to join the South Korean music label YG Entertainment, whose founder and chief executive officer Yang Hyun-suk was an old friend of Psy.[38] In 2010, Psy joined YG Entertainment.[39] The K-pop singer Kim Heechul, from the boyband Super Junior, expressed that he'd wished Psy would have joined his group's label SM Entertainment instead.[40] Psy released his fifth album PsyFive in 2010, and its lead single "Right Now" was banned from under-19 audiences by South Korea's Ministry of Gender Equality and Family for what it deemed an "obscene" lyric, "Life is like toxic alcohol".[41] Despite the ban, Psy received awards during the 2011 Melon Music Awards and Mnet Asian Music Awards.[31] Psy had, up until this point, topped domestic music charts half a dozen times throughout his twelve-year career in South Korea.[42]

On January 7, 2012, Psy performed alongside K-pop bands Bigbang and 2NE1 in front of 80,000 Japanese fans during the YG Family Concert in Osaka. His performance was broadcast by Mezamashi TV (mezamashi meaning "wake-up alarm"), a Japanese news magazine show produced by Fuji Television. This marked his first appearance on a foreign broadcasting network.[43] During the concert, Psy introduced himself to his Japanese fans with a sign that read "I’m a famous singer well-known for driving the audience wild in Korea, but here, today, I’m just a little chubby newcomer" and sang five of his hit songs while Japanese TV commentators expressed their approval in their astonishment at his humorous incorporation of the moves of Lady Gaga and Beyonce.[44]

2012–13: "Gangnam Style" and unexpected international breakthrough [edit]

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon scheduled a meeting with Psy in the belief that music has great power to overcome intolerance.[45]
Psy performing in Cannes, France, at the January 2013 NRJ Music Awards ceremony.

In July 2012, Psy released his sixth album Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1 and the song "Gangnam Style" appeared in broadcasting networks and newspapers outside Asia.[46][47][48] On August 14, "Gangnam Style" ranked first on YouTube's 'Most Viewed Videos' monthly chart;[49] On August 21, 2012, "Gangnam Style" officially charted No. 1 on the iTunes Music Video Charts, overtaking Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me" and Katy Perry's "Wide Awake"; this feat is the first for any South Korean artist. After the video went viral, celebrities quickly jumped on board with Katy Perry, Britney Spears, and Tom Cruise taking to Twitter to share their delight.[50] The Gangnam Style phenomenon has also popularized his older music videos, such as "Right Now."[51] On September 14, 2012, he appeared on The Today Show on NBC in New York City, performing the song live and teaching dance moves to the anchors.[52] The following day, he also made a cameo appearance on Saturday Night Live during a skit featuring "Gangnam Style."

"When I realized that some top stars like have imagined or tweeted about me, I thought, 'That's joking. That's not gonna happen...' I never expect things like this, not because they are top stars, but because this is the biggest market in the universe for pop music, right, so everybody's dreaming about having appearance in the U.S. so I’m still saying, 'What going on here? This is beautiful.'"[53]

Riding high on the success of Gangnam Style, Psy was signed by Scooter Braun to Braun's Schoolboy Records, a label distributed by Republic Records.[54] In early September, the Gangnam district awarded Psy with a plaque and named him an honorary ambassador.[55] On October 24, 2012, Psy was recognized by the United Nations as an "International sensation."[56] According to Reuters, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon scheduled a meeting with Psy in the belief that music has great power to overcome intolerance.[45] On October 23, 2012, they met at the United Nations Headquarters where Ban expressed his desire to work with Psy. He remarked that Psy has an "unlimited global reach" and said, "I hope that we can work together using your global reach."[4]

According to Korean newspaper The Dong-a Ilbo, Psy was appointed as a goodwill ambassador of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).[57]

On November 7, Psy held a speech in England at the Oxford Union to discuss the inspiration behind Gangnam Style and his next album. He told the audience that due to the success of Gangnam Style he is now living in both a dream and a nightmare, as it will be difficult for his next song to equal Gangnam Style's success. He also talked about his early life and the moment he realized Gangnam Style became famous. According to The Independent, tickets for his speech were "in such demand they had to be assigned by ballot – a method not required when former presidential candidate John McCain spoke earlier that year, nor when Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama nor Michael Jackson spoke."[58]

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U.S. President Barack Obama cited Psy's "Gangnam Style" as an example of how people around the world are being "swept up by Korean culture -- the Korean Wave."[59]

On November 12, Psy became the second South Korean music artist to appear at the MTV Europe Music Awards[60] where he performed Gangnam Style and held off competition from Rihanna, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga to win the "Best Video" award.[61] The event was broadcast worldwide and hosted by the German model and actress Heidi Klum, who introduced Psy to the audience as the "undisputed King of Pop".[62] A few days later, American singer-songwriter Madonna performed a mashup of "Gangnam Style" and "Give It 2 Me" alongside Psy and her backup dancers during a concert in New York City at Madison Square Garden during her MDNA Tour. Psy later told reporters that his gig with Madonna had "topped his list of accomplishments."[63]

On November 24, "Gangnam Style" became the most viewed video in YouTube history, surpassing the previous most watched video, Justin Bieber's "Baby". The number of views were achieved about eleven times faster than Bieber's.[64] Psy later won four awards at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards in Hong Kong. He met actor and stunt performer Jackie Chan, who called him a role model that proved that "dreams do come true".[65] On December 21, "Gangnam Style" reached 1 billion views on YouTube, becoming the first video to do so.[5]

In 2013, Psy made his debut on South American television by giving an interview on the Brazilian news program Fantástico.[66] It was announced on January 27, 2013, that Psy would perform at South Korea's presidential inauguration ceremony on February 25, 2013.[67]

2013–present: "Gentleman" and future endeavors [edit]

On April 12, the audio of Psy's follow-up single "Gentleman" was leaked onto the internet, a day before its official international release.[68] On the following day, the music video for 'Gentleman' premiered at Psy's 'Happening' Concert, which was attended by 50,000 people and live streamed on YouTube to an audience of 150,000.[69][70] Guest performers of the concert included Lee Hi, 2NE1 and G-Dragon.[70] He had reportedly invested US$2.7 million into the production of the concert.[71]

Psy is slated to star in a South Korean remake of the Hindi film ABCD: Any Body Can Dance, taking over the role of Vishnu (Prabhu Deva) in the original film.[72]

On April 29, he became the tourism ambassador of South Korea.[73]2

On May 6, 2013, PSY appeared on Live! with Kelly and Michael and taught Kelly Ripa & Michael Strahan how to do the Gentleman Dance. He appeared on the show again on May 21, 2013 and performed his recent song, "Gentleman".

On May 9, 2013, Psy gave a special lecture at Harvard University. In this lecture, he spoke about his passion and other reasons for his popularity.[74] In the finale of American Idol season 12 on May 16, 2013, Psy performed "Gentlemen".[75]

On May 17, 2013, according to YG Entertainment, Psy will sing as part of the pre-match entertainment at Stadio Olimpico on May 26.[76]

On May 21, 2013, Psy and his troupe perfomed his song "Gentleman" on the Finale of Dancing With the Stars, Season 16. [77]

Artistry [edit]

Park Jae-sang's stage name 'Psy' derives from the word 'psycho'. Explaining his stage name, he said in a BBC interview, "what I thought was, you know, crazy about music, dancing, performance, so that kind of psycho."[78]

Influences [edit]

According to Time, Freddie Mercury of the British rock band Queen inspired Psy to start his music career. Psy also revealed that the one celebrity he wants to meet most is the American actor Tom Cruise,[79] who helped popularize "Gangnam style" on Twitter and recently tweeted whether Psy would "make a good future co-star Gangnam Style?"[80][81]

Public image [edit]

Psy performing in Sydney, Australia

Psy is known for his sense of humor in his concerts, where he imitates female singers such as Park Ji-yoon, Lee Hyori, Lady Gaga and Beyonce.[82] Although his music is part of the K-pop (Korean popular music) genre, Beth Hong from The Vancouver Observer noted that Psy doesn't fit the standard K-pop idol image of being incredibly young, good-looking, and able to carry a melodramatic note."[83]

Lucy Williamson from the BBC recognized Psy as South Korea's "newest and biggest music star", but also described him as "unpolished, unpredictable and he doesn't look like your typical Korean idol".[84][85] Sarah Charlton from Reuters called him a "chubby South Korean pop singer" that has found fame and popularity in a "sea of pretty K-pop stars".[86] In South Korea, some have called him the "Bizarre Singer"[87] while others consider him to be "the antithesis of what is popular in Korean pop music".[88]

Chelsea Handler from Chelsea Lately jokingly described Psy as "Korea's Ricky Martin, as well as a sex symbol" during his introduction on the show[89] while Gil Kaufman from MTV described the singer as one of the "biggest pop sensations in the world."[63]

Legacy [edit]

During the span of his career, Psy was awarded multiple Guinness World Records for:

As a result of his achievements, Psy is considered to be the first K-pop artist to make a breakthrough in the Western music industry.[91] In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Psy affirmed that "It will be only a matter of time before K-Pop will produce many others like Psy."[92]

According to Hugo Swire, the British Minister of State for the Foreign Office, Psy's music has given the world a glimpse of the dynamism and vibrancy of modern Korea.[93] South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognized Psy's cultural achievements by bestowing upon him the Okgwan Order, a 4th grade Order of Cultural Merit.[94]

Personal life [edit]

In 2001, Psy was arrested for the possession of marijuana[95][96] and as a result, was unable to attend his grandfather's funeral. During an interview, Psy revealed "I was very close to him. I was not there at the funeral: I will regret this [being arrested] for the rest of my life, because my grandpa loved me so much, and I couldn't be there for him on his deathbed."[97][98]

On October 14, 2006, Psy married Yoo Hye-yeon, a cello major at Yonsei University and his girlfriend of three and a half years. According to the Korean Broadcasting System, the couple were introduced by a mutual acquaintance.[99][100] They have twin daughters.[101]

Psy considers "Gangnam Style" to be the greatest achievement of his life.[102]

Views on North Korea [edit]

In the early 2010s, South Korea's Sunshine Policy towards North Korea was abolished as tensions between the two countries continued to increase. As a result, Psy was questioned by the media on several occasions regarding his views on North Korea.

On April 13, 2013, Psy attended a press conference where he expressed regret about his country's conflict with North Korea and described the situation as a "tragedy". He also expressed hope that North Koreans would one day be able to enjoy his music before elaborating that his job is to make everyone, including North Koreans, laugh.[103] Right before the start of a concert in Seoul, Psy added:

Tonight me and 50,000 Korean people... we are going to sing out loud. We are going to shout out loud and we are really close to them, so they (the North Koreans) can hear us


In an interview with The Daily Beast (an American news website), Psy was asked to give his take on Kim Jong-un's recent threats against South Korea and the United States, to which he replied: "Well, as an entertainer, I don’t want to talk about politics. As a Korean citizen, I want peace. That’s all I can say. I want permanent peace."[105]

Controversy [edit]

Anti-American performances and subsequent apology [edit]

Psy in March 2012, during a press conference for a Korean television show Superstar K4.

In 2002, Psy participated in an anti-American concert after a U.S. military convoy accidentally struck and killed two 14-year-old South Korean schoolgirls in the Yangju highway incident. The soldiers involved in the incident were acquitted by U.S. military courts,[106] which fueled a significant amount of anti-American sentiment in South Korea. Inspired by that incident, Psy lifted up a miniature model of an 'American tank' and smashed it against the stage.[107]

In 2004, the South Korean translator and Christian missionary Kim Sun-il was kidnapped and beheaded in Iraq after the South Korean government refused to reconsider sending its armed forces to support the Iraq War. Although initial protests were only directed towards the South Korean government and towards extremists in Iraq, anti-U.S. military protesters decided to seize the moment to trigger a much larger wave of anti-Americanism. During a concert, Psy admonished the Iraqi kidnappers, condemned South Korea's former president Roh Moo-hyun, and also sang along to lyrics of the song "Dear American" by South Korean rock band N.EX.T, which criticizes the United States military for its actions in the Iraq war.[108] An initial translation of the lyrics was posted by an iReporter unto CNN's iReport site.[109] Some of the lyrics, referring to the guards who tortured Iraqi prisoners, were inaccurately translated by CNN as follows: "Kill those fucking Yankees who have been torturing Iraqi captives and those who ordered them to torture," and "Kill [the Yankees'] daughters, mothers, daughters-in-law and fathers / Kill them all slowly and painfully."[109][110] It was later revealed that the actual Korean lyrics did not include the word "Yankee" or any other pejorative referring specifically to Americans.

A few days later The Washington Post raised questions about the accuracy of the translation of the lyrics into English, which originated from CNN's citizen journalism initiative iReport. Max Fisher of the The Washington Post foreign staff reported that he solicited native Korean and English speakers, academics accustomed to the sensitivity of word-for-word translations, young Koreans familiar with the cultural connotations of the lyrics, and a professional interpreter to offer their translation of the lyrics, and found out that the lyrics may have actually slurred the American servicemen rather than calling for their deaths, although he did also go on to opine that, "using a racial slur to accuse Americans of killing Iraqis’ family members is still pretty serious".[111][112] Fisher also states that the word translated 'Yankee' in the CNN iReport was underplayed, with one Korean American describing the slur as an "nearly untranslatable" racist “epithet,” perhaps best approximated as “foreign barbarian.” "[111]

Although Psy's actions did not receive any significant international media coverage at that time, this changed after the media reported about it in early December 2012. On December 7, 2012, Psy issued an apology directed towards members of the U.S. military and to the American people for his "inflammatory and inappropriate" language, and expressed hope that the American public will accept his apology.[113]

Despite initial public outrage, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told the media that U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama will attend Psy's performance at the Christmas in Washington charity concert as planned.[114] As a result of the controversy caused by mistranslation of the lyrics to a song that was not even his own, a petition circulated on the website of the White House demanding that he be dropped from the concert, although the petition was deleted later in the day because the White House website claimed that the petition violated the website's terms of participation.[109] Time magazine's Nick Carbone asserted that it is "unlikely that these newly dug-up anecdotes will depose Psy from his king-like level of stardom" although Carbone did go on to write that the atmosphere at the White House concert would be "somewhat subdued."[114]

Malaysian political rally [edit]

Psy was invited to perform on February 11, 2013 at Penang, Malaysia for the ruling Barisan Nasional party in an attempt to reach out to young voters there. Media reports estimate that it would cost at least US$300,000 for the performance.[115] Opposition backers called for supporters of the Democratic Action Party to show up in opposition colors. Despite the controversy and calls by Malaysian citizens to cancel the concert,[116] Psy performed in the end at Han Chiang School as a Chinese New Year open house,[117] for a crowd of 100,000.[118]

There were death threats issued against Psy if he entered Malaysia to perform on February 11, 2013.[119]

Questionable song title and revision of lyrics [edit]

In March 2013, South Korean media reported that the title of Psy's upcoming single would contain the word "Assarabia",[120] a slang used by South Koreans to express thrills, or simply to describe something satisfying. There were numerous objections to that upcoming title, and worries have risen that people of Arabic descent might misinterpret the title and find it derogatory.[121]

After being questioned by a correspondent of the Voice of America about the upcoming track's potential to offend, Psy voiced out that there has been some misunderstanding and his upcoming song will undergo a major revamp.[122] On March 19, 2013, he revised his song's title and lyrics over "worries it could offend Arabs".[121] Many people consider the change of his song title deliberate, aimed solely at building publicity for a strong follow-up to "Gangnam Style".[122] He has since renamed the song "Gentleman" and released it on April 12, 2013.

Reported earnings [edit]

The American news agency Associated Press reported that Psy is set to become a millionaire from YouTube advertisements and iTunes downloads, which underlines a shift in how money is being made in the music business.[123] According to the AP analysis, he is expected to make only $60,000 from downloads and streams of "Gangnam Style" in South Korea, due to the fact that many South Koreans use a music streaming service that costs less than $10 a month, and results in the cost of a downloaded song being about $0.10 and a streamed song being $0.02.[123] The bulk of Psy's earnings, however, originate from other sources such as TV commercials and YouTube revenue, the latter generating almost US $1 million for 33,000 parodies and related videos identified in September 2012 by YouTube's automatic identification system.[123] In total, AP estimated that Psy will earn at least US $8.1 million in 2012.[123]

Discography [edit]

Studio albums [edit]

Other albums [edit]

Extended plays [edit]

Awards and nominations [edit]

Filmography [edit]

Television [edit]

2012Dream High 2Trainer Coach (Episode 5)
Superstar K4 (슈퍼스타 K4)Himself – Judge
Saturday Night LiveHimself, Lids/Gangnam Style Sketch (Season 38 Episode 1)
2013Live! with Kelly and MichaelHimself, (Two Shows within Two Weeks)

Film [edit]

2002Wet DreamsStudent Teacher Seok-Goo

Music video appearances [edit]

A list of music videos that feature Psy in a guest or cameo role.

YearMusic videoArtist
2003"애송이 ("Aesongi", "Novice Baby Boy")"Lexy
2012"Ice Cream"Hyuna
2013"DJ Play My Song (NO, LEAVE ME ALONE)"Schmoyoho

See also [edit]

References [edit]

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  13. ^ Retrieved May 10, 2013.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
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External links [edit]