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Kazak, Philippines teams bag grand prize at K-pop festival

CHANGWON, South Gyeongsang ― A petite singer from the Philippines and a duo from Kazakhstan won the grand prizes at the 2011 K-pop World Festival Wednesday, where 10 teams from all over the world performed songs by their favorite Korean idols. Karla Carreon from the Philippines and JAM from Kazakhstan bested teams that had flown to the southeastern city of Changwon from Peru, Vietnam, Japan, China, Indonesia, Britain, Russia, the United States and more.

Carreon, who sang “Byeol (Star)” by Korean singer Yumi, said she had “never expected to win.”

“There were so many good teams to hope for something. I’m just so happy,” the 17-year-old said, adding she was holding back her tears so her “makeup won’t be ruined.”

JAM, who won the first prize for performance after singing and dancing to boy band SHINee’s “Ring Ding Dong,” described their win as “shocking.”

“We think we won because we practiced a lot, well into the night,” the two college friends said during the press interview. “We’ll keep on performing around the world.”

The 10 teams that performed on Wednesday night in front an audience of some 9,000 were finalists who passed the semifinals held in Seoul the previous day.

A total of 21 teams from 16 different countries had flown to Korea hoping to bag prizes during the talent contest that showcased the winners from local competitions held by different Korean Cultural Centers in their respective countries.

The competition, supported by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Korean Culture and Information Service and the Presidential Council on Nation Branding, is expected to be held annually with the increasing popularity of Korean pop music and culture throughout the world.

“This contest is for a good cause. It would be a meaningful event to keep,” said Cho Yeon-gap, deputy director of the Culture Ministry’s public relations bureau.

Cherelle Joy Thompson from Britain, who won the popularity award after singing G.NA’s “Whatever - enjoy your life,” said she felt privileged to be attending the contest.

“Korean songs are very easy to dance along to and refreshing,” she said during a backstage interview. “I especially like Girls’ Generation, SISTAR, SHINee ... all of them actually.”

Thompson was the only performer from Britain to attend the final contest. A total of 79 teams had competed during the June 3 local contest in Thompson’s home country.

Korean singer Eun Ji-won, one of the five-member jury, said he was surprised to hear the performers’ perfect pronunciation when singing and speaking Korean.

“I have no idea how they do it. And Korean is such a difficult language to learn,” he said.

Rocker Kim Jong-seo said all 21 teams were “winners already.”

“I am proud of them and also very proud of Korean music,” he said. “I have never quite realized the power of Korean music until tonight.”

K-pop stars including MBLAQ, T-ara, Infinite, SISTAR, Secret, K.Will, and CNBlue also performed during the festival.

While waiting nervously for their turns backstage, the performers took photographs of their favorite stars, shrieking with delight every now and then.

“We are really happy to be on this stage together with these singers. This is such a big experience for us,” NYE Boys from Indonesia said.

The four-member group won the participation prize after cover-dancing to SHINee’s “Lucifer” and SISTAR’s “So Cool.”

Culture Minister Choe Kwang-sik, who also attended the festival, congratulated the winners and the contenders saying he felt “proud to feel so much affection for Korean pop music.”

All 10 teams danced together to SHINee’s “Ring Ding Dong” as grand prize winner JAM performed an encore.

“I never expected them to be so good. I could just feel how much they loved the Korean singers and how hard they practiced,” said Kim Sae-rom, a 15-year-old who came to the concert with her friends.

KBS World will air the K-pop World Festival for two hours on Dec. 30.

By Shin Hae-in

1st prize winners of K-POP World Festival 2011 held in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province (Yonhap)
1st prize winners of K-POP World Festival 2011 held in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province (Yonhap)


A dancing duo from Kazakhstan performs at the K-POP World Festival 2011
A dancing duo from Kazakhstan performs at the K-POP World Festival 2011


A four-member girl group from Peru
A four-member girl group from Peru

Participants from Vietnam (Yonhap)
Participants from Vietnam (Yonhap)

Participants from Indonesia (Yonhap)
Participants from Indonesia (Yonhap)


한국가요 제일 잘부르는 외국팀은?

'K-POP 월드 페스티벌'이 7일 오후 경남 창원경 륜장 실내 특설무대에서 열렸다.

행사에는 미국, 영국 등 16개국에서 K-POP 경연을 통해 선발된 10개 팀이 나와 한국의 인기 가요에 맞춰 춤을 추거나 노래를 부르며 경연을 펼쳤다.

또 씨스타, 엠블랙, 티아라 등 국내 아이돌 스타들이 출연해 무대를 빛냈다.

무대 앞에 모인 1만여명의 관중들은 야광봉을 흔들고 음악에 맞춰 어깨춤을  추 면서 공연을 즐겼다.

황예원(14)양은 "입장하기 위해 3시간이 넘게 기다렸지만 좋아하는 가수를 직접 보게 돼 너무 기쁘다"고 말했다.

딸과 함께 온 안드레아(46ㆍ여ㆍ체코)씨는 "가사는 잘 모르지만 한국 음악의 멜 로디가 흥겨워서 좋다"고 했다.

이 행사는 한류를 세계에 확산시키고, 국가브랜드 가치를 높이기 위해 창원시가 KBS와 공동 주최했으며, 해외 72개국에 녹화방송될 예정이다.

창원시는 'K-POP 월드 페스티벌'을 해마다 개최하는 방안을 검토하고 있다.