Int’l media spotlights ’Korea’s Susan Boyle’
By Lee Hyo-won
The international press is noting the soaring popularity of local talent show sensation Choi Sung-bong or “Korea’s Susan Boyle” as dubbed by CNN.
The U.S. media likened the 22-year-old aspiring singer, who became known through tvN’s “Korea’s Got Talent,” to Boyle, a British singing star who made her debut through a TV talent show.
On June 4, Choi struck local viewers with a powerful rendition of “Nella Fantasia” which went on to be viewed by over 10 million YouTube users worldwide. A Facebook page has also been set up in his name and features supportive comments from fans all around the world.
In addition to Choi’s baritone vocals, his life story that moved viewers. He was abandoned by his family at the age of three and ran away from an orphanage when he was five.
"He has quickly become one of South Korea's biggest singing sensations and at just 22 years old but it was not an easy transition to the top,” said CNN anchor Manisha Tank.
Reuters has called him “a street boy who pulled at the heart strings of millions.”
For the next 10 years he survived on the streets by selling gum, doing manual labor and sleeping on the staircases of building or inside public bathrooms. He began dreaming of becoming a singer when he heard a vocalist perform while selling gum at a nightclub.
“I was completely captivated by the artist who sang with such sincerity,” said Choi.
Meanwhile Choi was also subject to controversy when news broke that “Korea’s Got Talent” did not broadcast the fact that he had studied singing at an arts high school in Daejeon. The finale of the program airs on Aug. 20.