Soju surprise leads to Korean TV gig

Soju surprise leads to Korean TV gig
The six young people behind the guerilla marketing campaign for Minister for Foreign Affairs George Yeo are (standing, from left) Mae Tan, Mr Narpal Singh, Miss Nadine Yeo, Mr Tang Jiawei, (sitting, centre) Miss Sheena Tan and Mr Ahmad Faizal (not seen in photo).

Not being able to sing or dance, by her own admission, did not stop blogger Mae Tan from emerging tops at an audition and becoming the star of a South Korean television series.

Miss Korea: I'm Mae is a travelogue featuring the 18-year-old's colourful escapades in that country, which includes visiting the scenic Jeju Island and queuing at the crack of dawn to get into the filming set of popular music variety show M Countdown. It is airing on Channel M (StarHub TV Channel 824 and SingTel mio TV Channel 518).

While taking a gap-year break from her studies this year, she never expected to score a dream deal that would make K-pop fans green with envy.

At the auditions held in June this year, many of the 90 hopefuls sang and danced.

Tan did something else altogether.

"I don't dance, I don't sing. I'm really good at drinking, so I decided to bring a bottle of soju (Korean spirit) and show the organisers that I know how to drink the Korean way," says Tan, who is signed with Gushcloud, a social media marketing start-up that manages YouTube personalities and bloggers.

Her ingenuity and liveliness struck a chord with the judges.

A Channel M spokesman said: "She was a natural in front of the camera and blogs very frequently. Her candour and energetic personality won the judges over, especially when she brought a prop to the audition - a bottle of Korean soju."

Her reward: a two-month all-expenses-paid stay in South Korea which started in July.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, such chances don't come by easily. I felt it was a very good experience for me to learn how to be on my own for two months," Tan tells Life!.

The middle child from a well-to-do family admits that the most challenging part of the trip was having to rely on herself.

Surviving on a one-time allowance of 1.5 million Korean won (S$1,790), she stayed in a backpackers' hostel, did her own laundry for the first time and had to navigate around the streets of Seoul (below) with her limited Korean vocabulary.

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