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‘Star Audition’ winner to donate prize money

“I’m going to do as I promised,” Paik Chung-kang, winner of popular survival singing competition “Star Audition” said in an interview with a local newspaper.

Paik Chung-kang, 22, promised to donate half of his prize money to those in difficulties after he was selected as the final winner of the competition. After the grand final stage, Paik said “I will donate half of my prize money to the orphanage or to the poor. I’m not that avaricious. I had been planning to give away half of it if I win, since it would feel awkward to have so much money in my hands,” he said. Paik received about 300 million won ($280,000) worth of prize money, 200 million won of which is for producing a record. 
Paik Chung-kang (Yonhap News)
Paik Chung-kang (Yonhap News)

Paik’s nomination was largely based on viewer votes, which by far exceeded those of semi-finalist Lee Tae-kwon. Lee had received higher scores from mentors but failed to outperform Paik in terms of viewer votes. The program selects its winners for each stage by adding the mentors’ scores and viewer votes.

Paik’s popularity is highest among women in their thirties and above. When asked what makes him so attractive, he answered, “Maybe it’s the dimples when I smile.” His army of older fans sent him presents such as an iPad, a Polaroid camera, a smartphone, and more than 200 pieces of clothing. Health foods such as red ginseng and restorative herb medicines were also sent by fans.

Paik had been living in China before he rose to stardom through the audition program. He lived alone in Gilin province, a Korean autonomous prefecture in Northeastern China, alone since age 9 due to economic difficulties. His father and mother lived separately in Korea and China to raise money. Paik said this was a common phenomenon for ethnic Koreans living in China.

“I would have been singing in a club, as always,” Paik said when asked what he would have done if he hadn’t participated in the audition. He said he used to sing in clubs in China before he came to Korea to participate in the program. “I wanted to become a singer in Korea. That’s why I applied for the audition,” he said.

“I’ve changed inside out,” he told the local newspaper. “I wasn’t the kind of person who could talk to strangers. Now I can. The program really changed me a lot and my mentor Kim Tae-won is the person who gave me the wings to fly.”

The audience reacted fervently when he performed “Heartbreaker” by G-Dragon during the program. Paik said he had been practicing to the tune for a very long time and had been waiting for the moment to show it to the audience. “I don’t usually watch my own performance, but that one, I watch it pretty often,” he said. “It was the most satisfying performance out of all my performances.”

“Some people think I suit ballad music. But I think a singer is a singer in all genres. I haven’t specifically thought about the genre I want to perform in, but I want to challenge myself in different genres like Michael Jackson.”

(syun@heraldcorp.com)
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