*Audition fever in Korea
There are currently 10 singing competition and reality talent shows on television in Korea. The first show that kicked off this talent search craze created a buzz when it drew 1.34 million contestants in its first season. Hur Gak was crowned the winner of that show and became an instant celebrity after toiling in obscurity as an electric fan repairman with a middle school education. Called Korea's Paul Potts, a British mobile phone salesman who won a talent show in Britain, Hur Gak was celebrated in the press and attracted a huge following of fans. People were drawn to his life story of hardships and how he overcame it to become an overnight sensation.
*A gateway to stardom?
Most members of K-Pop boy bands and all-female groups are selected in open auditions held by music labels. In light of the international success of several Korean pop acts, many young people are enrolling in singing classes to become stars themselves one day. Critics say that too many talent shows are encouraging more and more teenagers to choose a career in the music business as they are driven by the perceived glitzy life of pop stars but hardly possess any passion for music.
Despite the pitfalls in the music business, young people are turning out in droves at auditions because it offers a level playing field. In most open auditions, the music labels judge applicants solely on their talent while all other conventional criteria like educational background and prior experience are hardly a factor.
*Auditions give hope to aspiring talent
Ho-ryun is an aspiring singer whose father always dreamed of becoming a singer. Now he's trying to live out his father's dream by entering a talent show. Cha-mi entered a singing competition show with the hopes of becoming a complete musician and not just another one-hit wonder. Seeking a job as a news reporter, Ji-hye entered an elimination-style competition to vie for a coveted job in news media.