Choi Sung-bong, South Korea’s manual worker-turned--international singing sensation, ended his months-long reality show journey yesterday with a second-place finish to a female dancing competitor in the final round of the Korea’s Got Talent TV show.
Dubbed South Korea’s “Susan Boyle,” who shot to fame on a British TV talent show, Choi’s episode has hit the headlines of news media at home and abroad, pulling at the heart strings of millions around the world.
Choi, 22, who ascended to the top-two position with his powerful baritone, was defeated by a 17-year-old high school girl student, Ju Min-jeong, who has already been branded “Poppin’ Dance Empress” among her fan groups in South Korea.
Top 10 final qualifiers, comprising singers, dancers, harmonica players and magicians, competed on the stage of the finals show, the South Korean equivalent of Britain’s Got Talent.
The show, which lasted for two-and-a-half hours, was aired live on the host cable TV channel and YouTube and began at 11pm, in an apparent bid to attract more attention from overseas viewers.
“I am grateful to all who have helped me make it to this position. I will show you better of me by trying far harder,” Choi said of the final outcome.
Choi suddenly became an international singing sensation after his first performance of Nella Fantasia (“In My Fantasy”), an Italian classical crossover song composed by world-famed Ennio Morricone, which was reprized for the final.
His inspirational life story has also impressed many.
Choi said he was left in an orphanage at age of three, but he ran away two years later after he was abused by people there.
He then lived on the streets in a provincial city, selling gum and energy drinks to survive, before a woman from a snack bar helped him enter an evening-course school at 14 and teachers discovered his talent for singing. To earn money to continue the singing, he worked in construction.