We are living in the world that a cocktail waitress from Texas (Kelly Clarkson) and a mobile-phone salesman from Kingswood (Paul Potts) became TV superstars. And here comes another Cinderella story from South Korea!
Last Friday, ventilator repairman Huh Gak won the finals of Mnet’s talent show Superstar K2. Mnet, a famous Korean music cable channel as MTV in the US, started the talent show named Superstar K last year inspired by American Idol. And this year, Superstar K2(season2) rocked the nation for the past three months.
My favorite performance of Huh – ‘Don’t Say Goodbye’ sung by Seungchul Lee (one of the judges)
Although Superstar K2 aired through cable channel, it became the first Korean cable TV show to break the 10 percent mark in viewer ratings (even the last episode hit over 19 percent). Considering the average viewer ratings of cable TV shows in Korea, less than 2 percent, Superstar K2 clearly wrote the new history of the Korean broadcasting industry.
There are many reasons that Superstar K2 was much more popular than Superstar K (season1).
First, the success of Superstar K grabbed the advertisers leading them to invest heavily in the next season, Superstar K2. Including Coca-Cola, the main sponsor of Superstar K and K2, more companies – Samsung, Lancome and Motorola – involved this year secured the financial status of Mnet.
Second, Superstar K2 increased the viewers’ participation by using social media and text service. Since the show came down to 11 candidates, the winner and the loser of the week had been decided on pre-online votes, judge’s evaluation and real-time text votes. Thanks to the two-way communication strategy, Superstar K2 naturally drew more attention of people and media than the last season. And it became a social syndrome in South Korea where most people dream the winner of its competitive society.
At last, there were attractive young contestants. Let’s look at the Final four: Jain Jang, John Park, Seungyoon Kang and Huh Gak (I called them Fantastic Four). Jang was the only female contestant who made it to the top four through performing non-mainstream music. Park has already famous since the beginning of this season as the one of the top 20 from American Idol Season 6. Kang, 16-year-old boy, appealed 10s to 20s with his cute appearance but with sexy voice. At last, Huh showed his strong will to music against social prejudice in Korea toward mid-lower class people.
From left to right: Kang, Huh, Park and Jang
Now Huh regards as the Korean Paul Potts, whose dream of becoming an opera singer came true. Not only Huh won $180,000 plus a car, but he also gets a chance to release his album. Literally, it was a 1.34 million of shot.
“I will be a singer that reaches out to your heart.” His words in tears, after announced the winner of this season, touched every heart of Korean who watched the show including me. I hope that another Cinderella will continuously show the miracle to us next year.