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Audition craze

Posted July. 05, 2011 00:16,   

Updated January. 01, 1970 09:00

한국어

A combined 1.93 million people have applied to audition for “Shusuke 3 (Superstar K 3)." Given that Korea’s population is 50 million, that means one out of every 25 Koreans took to the mic to become a singer. The applicants range from elementary school kids to a 60-something singing group. Fairness in that anybody can try out and be selected if talented enough has led to the craze over Shusuke. The program has given a glimpse of hope that success is possible when doing one`s best and showing one`s talent despite having nothing or lacking connections with the influential or powerful.

"Superstar K" winner Heo Gak and “Widaehan Tansaeng (Birth of a Great Star)" champion Baek Cheong-kang are not idol singers who underwent hard training with entertainment agencies. Neither of them resembles Prince Charming. Their humble backgrounds touched the Korean people, with Heo being a ventilation cleaner and Baek a Chinese-Korean migrant worker from China`s Yanbian Province. Viewers sympathize with ordinary people who strive for success like themselves and feel a vicarious thrill.

Given Shusuke`s huge success, other networks have copied the program and as many as 10 “me-too” programs have surfaced. There are too many copycat programs and viewers are confused over what to see. Certain applicants have worse than long odds, crooked talent agencies exploit the pursuit of their dreams, and even private prep schools for such contests have mushroomed. It is also doubtful whether judges can detect true talent among numerous candidates who have just a minute to show their stuff.

Behind the audition craze lies the unique DNA of Koreans that makes them pursue a goal once they are in high spirits. The “can-do spirit” enabled Koreans to rise out of the ashes of the Korean War to build a country and turn it into an economic and IT powerhouse. The stream of the Korean Wave across the globe could be related to the audition craze. What one candidate said – "I was happy because I challenged myself" – is touching. A saying goes that it is better to regret doing something instead of not doing. The only fear is the emptiness of the stage and seats felt by viewers who are disappointed with too many reality competition programs.

Editorial Writer Ha Tae-won (triplets@donga.com)