By Cecille Santillan-Visto
KOREAN POP idols are all the craze not just in Asia but worldwide — BTS headlined the 2018 Billboard Music Awards and even appeared on Ellen; Big Bang celebrated its 10th anniversary by guesting on CNN’s Talk Asia; and Korean music festivals featuring boy and girl groups are making the rounds of Europe and the Middle East. K-pop fame is indeed enticing — although the road to stardom is never easy.
Aspirants seize any opportunity that may result in a career-changing debut.
With this in mind, VIU, a regional video service, recently launched an original reality show that will show the journey of 10 Filipino contestants who aspire to become K-idols.
Hello K-Idol, which will be exclusively streamed on VIU, will follow 10 finalists as they undertake a 10-week challenge where they will hone their singing, dancing, and overall performing skills. Their webisodes (web-based episodes), which will be shown starting this month through September, will also document their styling transformation and teamwork. There will be additional episodes and behind-the-scene footage and extended profiles on the contestants.
Support cast will critique their performances but will also provide guidance to improve their craft.
Judges include singers Morisette Amon and Jinho Bae and Korean professional dancer Dasuri Choi. Kring Elenzano-Kim, herself a product of a reality TV show, will host.
K-idol-inspirations Yook Sungjae of the band BtoB and Jung Joon Young of 2 Days and 1 Night TV show fame, will also share their experiences with the contestants.
During a recent press conference, Arianne Kader-Cu, Viu Philippines Country Manager, said it has been the company’s dream to produce an online reality show.
“Reality shows are a dime a dozen on television, but with our first Viu Original in the country, we wanted to create something special by nurturing and honing Filipino talent with the help of their real-life idols on an international platform,” said Ms. Kader-Cu.
“With over 15 million Filipinos interested in Korean entertainment, we hope that they can relate and stand by the K-trainees in their journey to fulfilling their K-pop idol dreams,” Ms. Kader-Cu added.
Quark Henares, Head of Globe Studios, said Hello K-Idol will be different from traditional reality programs as viewers can watch it on demand through their mobile devices using the VIU app. VIU is available in 16 markets including Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.
If the show proves to be a hit, Mr. Henares said they are considering an all-ladies lineup for the second season.
But do Filipinos have what it takes to be as successful as their highly trained and ultra-disciplined Korean counterparts?
“There are a lot of Asians working in the Korean entertainment industry and I don’t see any problems with Filipinos becoming K-pop artists,” said Mr. Jung, adding that tenacity is the most important quality of any K-pop idol wannabe.
For his part, Mr. Yook said Filipinos have proven that they can shine on the international stage. If they can learn from the stars who have made it big, he noted that they will have a fighting chance in the competitive K-pop arena.
VIU and Globe are also jointly promoting #PlayItRight and #ViuItRight in a bid to boost the campaign against anti-online piracy. They encourage netizens to support only legitimate online portals showing their favorite Korean shows.
The challenges set for the contestant will be difficult but a four-month, all-expense paid scholarship to learn K-pop vocals and dance at a prestigious entertainment school in Korea awaits the winner.
The ultimate champion’s quest will not end with Hello K-Idol as he has to test his talents against other K-pop hopefuls in Seoul. It will not an easy pursuit but at least the first few — and most difficult steps — have been taken.
By Cecille Santillan-Visto