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South Korean rap sensation Psy honored at Tribeca Film Festival

South Korean rapper Psy poses during a news conference before his concert in Seoul April 13, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won
South Korean rapper Psy poses during a news conference before his concert in Seoul April 13, 2013. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won

NEW YORK (Reuters) - South Korean rapper and Internet sensation Psy was honored as a transcultural phenomenon by the Tribeca Film Festival on Friday along with a host of other luminaries ranging from choreographer Twyla Tharp to controversial media host Glenn Beck.

"Who knew, right?" Psy said as he was presented his Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Award. "Giving me this award in itself is innovation, I think."

Referring to his sudden worldwide fame both on and off the Internet, where his videos have racked up more than one billion views on YouTube, Psy said, "I still cannot believe what happened right now."

"I'm still figuring out the reason for this happening like this," he said, noting that he had been working in music in his native South Korea for over a decade.

The Disruptive Innovation Awards honor those whose ideas have broken the mold to create significant impact.

"In our fourth installment, we are exploring the ever-increasing gap between the rate of technological change and the bumpier, slower-moving cultural adoption and diffusion," said Craig Hatkoff, a festival co-founder and the awards' chief curator.

Wearing a black suit and stylish white dress shirt, Psy, known for his megahit "Gangnam Style" as well as his energetic and flamboyant performances, charmed the audience with self-effacing remarks offered in rather halting English.

"I don't want to say this but, it's kind of embarrassing, but ... maybe, am I handsome?" The audience expressed its approval with cheers and applause.

The awards were presented at New York University, marking a homecoming of sorts for Psy, whose real name is Park Jae-sang.

"I applied to this school in 1996, but I failed. What a success," he said. "Finally, I entered this building this morning."

Other recipients of the Disruptive Innovation Awards included Beck, a conservative television and radio commentator, fashion designer Norma Kamali, Chobani yogurt mogul Hamdi Ulukaya, music and film entrepreneur Peter Shapiro and Forbes Media, in addition to Tharp who received a lifetime achievement award.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud, Editing by Jill Serjeant and Paul Simao)

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