Youngest winner at 15 to choose agency among top three K-pop companies
Fifteen-year-old Park Ji-min became the winner of SBS’ “K-pop Star,” beating out her rival Lee Ha-yi by one point in the neck-and-neck competition on Sunday evening.
With Sunday’s win, Park also became the youngest and first female winner of a local TV singing audition program.
“I’m happy because I feel like I’m being rewarded for all the hard work up until now. I would like to thank my parents and the three judges,” said Park, ending the five-month contest.
Park won 300 million won ($265,000) in prize money along with an opportunity to release an album under the agency of her choice among the top entertainment companies, SM, YG and JYP Entertainment.
She will also receive additional prizes including a car and a chance to shoot a commercial.
Park Ji-min, winner of “K-Pop Star.” (Screen capture from SBS)
Throughout the competition, Park was praised for her powerful vocals and lively performances.
She sang two songs at the final stage ― “Music is My Life” by Korean singer Lim Jung-hee and “Mercy” by British singer Duffy, which had been sung by Lee earlier in the competition.
Park topped Lee by one point after receiving higher scores from judges, although Lee scored higher in the online vote by viewers with 52 percent. Park had 47 percent.
The total score was based on judges’ scores (60 percent); phone votes by viewers (30 percent); and online votes (10 percent).
Lee sang “Killing Me Softly with His Song” by Roberta Flack and “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele.
Park was well-known for her outstanding vocal ability in her hometown of Daejeon before she appeared on the audition program. Her parents had both been singers when they were young.
The audition program differentiated itself from other singing contests by giving the winner a chance to debut under an agency of their choice.
Now attention has shifted to which label Park will choose.
Park and other contestants all underwent training at the three agencies at each stage of the audition. Judges picked their favorite candidates and had them undergo each of their training programs.
Park began to receive the spotlight when she sang “Rolling in the Deep” under SM Entertainment’s tutelage in December.
Her performance received thumbs-up from the three judges and was praised by Ashton Kutcher, who posted the video clip of the performance on his Twitter.
The singing contest also drew attention from top industry figure judges Yang Hyun-suk and Park Jin-young, former singers and heads of major entertainment agencies YG Entertainment and JYP Entertainment, respectively, and famous K-pop singer BoA, representing SM Entertainment.
Park is expected to appear later as a guest on the SBS talk show “Gangsimjang,” and talk about behind-the-scenes stories of the audition program.
By Lee Woo-young (email@example.com