Superstar K kicks off season two

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Superstar K kicks off season two


People line up to audition for the TV talent show Superstar K at a gymnasium at Korea University in northern Seoul on June 5-6. More than a million candidates auditioned for the show this season, the first episode of which aired Friday. Provided by Mnet

“Superstar K,” a television talent show on cable broadcasting network Mnet, commenced its second thrilling season of cutthroat competition on Friday.

The show, modeled after other TV talent shows like “American Idol” and “Britain’s Got Talent,” kicked off in July 2009. Its formula for discovering ordinary people with extraordinary talent and turning them into superstars earned it an audience share of 8.47 percent, which was unprecedented for a cable network TV show at the time.

Song Chang-ui, head of the TV network tvN, called it, “A well-made program and the most ‘Korean’ reality program there is.”

The winner of season one was Seo In-guk, a man from a poor family who collected recyclables for a living. After he was named the winner of the show’s final round, he fulfilled his lifelong dream of being a singer with his first album “Calling.” One of the tracks from that album, the song “Love U,” was No. 1 on the Mnet music-ranking program “M Countdown” in the second week of May this year.

Season two promises more intense competition, better prizes and more episodes than last.

The show’s producers are hoping that the contestants’ stories will be just as moving as Seo’s.

“The contestants seemed keen to share their histories during the audition process,” says Kim. “We hope to have some interesting stories revealed.”

This season, 1,346,402 people signed up to audition for the show. That’s almost twice the number of people who auditioned to be on the show last season - 713,500.

To broaden its contestant pool, the producers took the show on the road to Koreatown in Los Angeles, where more than 2,000 people lined up to audition.

The audition frenzy has even enticed celebrity family members. Nam Sung-min, the little brother of Nam Gyu-ri, a former member of the girl group SeeYa, appeared in the season opener and is still in the running. Lee Yeon-ji, the nephew of Shin Chul, a former member of popular ’90s duo Chuli and Miae, was eliminated.

With the influx of contestants, the competition is fiercer than ever.

Kim Yong-beom, the show’s producer, said, “Those who would have passed the preliminaries with flying colors last year wouldn’t make the cut this year.”

As with last year, the contestants are being judged by a panel of veteran singers. On the first show of the season, In Soon-I, Kim Jong-guk, MC Mong, Lee Seung-chul, Lee Ha-neul and Baek Ji-young kept audiences entertained with their witty and piercing remarks to the group of hopeful contestants.

In May, American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson served as one of the judges for the third round of auditions in Daegu.

The winner of this year’s Superstar K will receive 200 million won ($167,441) in prize money, a QM5 SUV from Renault Samsung and will stand on stage at the 2010 Mnet Asian Music Awards. They will also be invited to make an album and music video with renowned songwriters and producers.

The show airs Fridays at 11 p.m. on Mnet. The winner of Superstar K season two will be unveiled on Oct. 22.

*Additional reporting by Hannah Kim, contributing writer.

By Chun In-sung []
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