MANILA, Philippines – For years, the Korean pop industry has been open to foreigners: there's 2PM's Nichkhun (Thai-American), BLACKPINK's Lisa (Thai), EXO's Lay (Chinese), TWICE's Momo, Sana, and Mina (Japanese) – the list goes on.
More recently, Filipino-American Kriesha Chu debuted as a solo artist after participating in South Korean reality show K-pop Star.
Will the next Filipino K-pop idol be a product of another reality show?
That's the vision of Viu original reality show Hello K-Idol, which will run from July to September and will feature 10 male finalists aspiring to be a K-pop idol.
The Filipino trainees will go through a 10-week challenge in the Philippines to hone their talents in singing, dancing, performing, styling, and teamwork.
They will be training under singers Morissette Amon and Jinho Bae, as well as dancer Dasuri Choi. Korean singers Jung Joon-young and Yook Sung-jae will also be the show's "inspirations," according to Globe Studios head Quark Henares.
"It's a whole journey, it's anything from how to dance and sing correctly, but it's not just that. It's how to style correctly, how to walk correctly, and of course no one can teach you that but the real K-idols," he said during the launch of the show on Friday, July 13.
The final winner will "learn K-pop vocal and dance at a prestigious entertainment talent school in Korea" for 4 months.
Viu Philippines Country Manager Arianne Kader-Cu said "there's always a chance" for the show's winner to debut in Korea. To debut in the K-pop world means to be officially launched as an act.
"That's the point and the beauty about a reality show – you really don't know what's going to happen. I think the great thing about the contestants that Quark and the Viu team chose is that they really have the drive. Hopefully one day they will be in a Korean group – that's our vision," she added.
Even Joon-young and Sung-jae believe it's possible for Filipinos to become K-pop idols. (READ: Jung Joon-young, Yook Sung-jae on what it takes to be a K-pop idol)
During the launch, BTOB member Sung-jae said a lot of Filipinos are really good at singing and dancing. Joon-young, a solo artist, said there's no problem with Filipinos being K-pop artists since a lot of foreigners are already working as artists in Korea.
On Friday, Cu also explained why the first season of Hello K-Idol features only male finalists.
"Facebook reports about 15 million Filipinos are interested in K-entertainment. On our platform alone, mostly 75% of them are females, so we thought it would be a great time to kick off this show format with a male band because of the female craze," she said.
Henares said they also want to do something with female aspirants "soon, maybe after this one." – Rappler.com
Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.