Orphan-Turned-Star Korea’s Got Talent Runner-up: Choi-Sung-Bong
We first heard about Choi Sung-Bong during his amazing Korea’s Got Talent audition. Most of us were floored by not only Choi’s voice, but most especially, his adversity-filled life.
The reticent 22-year-old recounts his story. At age 3, his parents left him in an orphanage. By the time he turned 5, he ran away after getting beaten, abused, and bullied for two years. For the next ten years (remember that he was just five years old), Choi learned to live on his own. He sold gum and energy drinks on the streets and slept in public stairwells and toilet stalls.
With no one to defend him, life on the streets was dangerous for a little kid. He would often get heckled, beaten, or punched. In fact, he reveals an incident when a local gang caught him in their territory. Choi sadly tells CNN, “They dug a hole, threw me in it and buried me.”
The endless daily drudgery was almost too much for young Choi. With no signs of reprieve, the despair became overwhelming and he tried killing himself. However, everything changed in one night. Like any other night, Choi was selling gum on the streets, when he heard an opera-like singer in a Korean nightclub. The strong music and inspiring voice gave him the escape that he never thought possible.
“My life was meaningless,” Choi says honestly. “There was only one thing that gave me comfort. It was music, not people”
The next day, he looked through the classifieds and finally found what he was looking for – an opera teacher, Park Jung-So.
Park recounts his first meeting with Choi, “He was living in a container box with no running water, electricity or heating. He said he slept there with layers of clothes on in the winter.” Park continues, “His situation was unbelievably harsh but his passion for music, for wanting to learn, was very strong.”
Choi’s life was slowly turning around. With Park’s guidance, Choi was not only able to get free singing lessons, but he also passed the state exams to attend high school. While working hard in school, Choi also worked as a construction worker to help pay for his schooling.
After some hesitation, Choi decided to join Korea’s Got Talent, as a way to express his music and singing. After impressing the public with his voice and story, Choi was just announced as the 2nd place winner in the reality TV show!
Despite all the difficulties, Choi was able to surpass all obstacles to become an international singing sensation. With incredible resolve and humility, he shows all of us that anything is possible.
“I am grateful to all who have helped me make it onto this position,” Choi says humbly after receiving the second-place award. “I will show you better of me by trying far harder.”