Lessons in mediocrity: The singer who can’t singIf you have lived long enough in Korea you will know that besides binge drinking and bowing to your superiors, singing is something else that you have to master if you want to mingle successfully with your Korean co-workers.
For those who weren’t born with a Celine Dion-like voice or even the slightest feel for rhythm or timing, this practice may be the closest thing to torture imaginable.
Those who have no hope of raising their singing ability to an acceptable level find company dinners where everybody is forced to sing, after a couple rounds of soju have eased the tension, a complete nightmare. The mere mention of the word norebang is enough to make these poor souls break out in a cold sweat.
Nevertheless, there is new hope for these broken people, and it has arrived in the form of Seo Min-jeong, 24, a female Korean TV personality who is an emcee on entertainment shows and also makes appearances in TV dramas.
Originally starting out as a video disk jockey for a local cable station, Seo Min-jeong has become a rising star because of one questionable talent: She can’t sing.
Her crackling voice and natural lack of rhythm have catapulted her fame above that of many famous singers and comedians.
Her lack of musical ability landed her in nine comedy programs over the Lunar New Year holiday period, while on the Internet, music files of her singing performances have been downloaded by users and shared.
Her popularity has given rise to suspicion that her bad singing performances are merely part of a plot to raise her popularity. Some people have even gone so far as to analyze some of her performances, arguing that in some cases her singing, while not outstanding, is quite normal.
Ms. Seo denies that she is purposely singing badly to gain popularity.
“I just think it’s part of a genuine interest in me. The funny part is that real singers get a lot of heat when they can’t sing but in my case some people actually think I am not that bad. Well, of course then you have the ones that think it’s all part of a scheme.”
It has been six months since Ms. Seo debuted as a bad singer, a period that has brought her far more fame than she had before she grabbed the microphone.
After her reputation spread she became the No. 1 target of many entertainment show producers who made her sing bad songs to the amusement of viewers.
Nevertheless, Ms. Seo says that she does not want to appear in any more shows that highlight her lack of musical talent.
Hence, she quit the “Choi Soo-jong Show” after three appearances even though the show had attracted a wide following.
Despite her unease with the nature of her newfound fame, Ms. Seo is happy that she can make people laugh with her singing.
“Actually, when I make people laugh, it is my happiest time. In that aspect I have succeeded, but I would prefer to make that happen in other areas than my singing.”
by Ahn Hai-ri