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'I want to give hope': Young North Korean defector joins K-pop talent hunt

'I want to give hope': Young North Korean defector joins K-pop talent hunt
K-pop idol hopeful Kim Hak-seong.
PHOTO: Instagram/Make Mate 1

K-pop idol hopeful Kim Hak-seong is making headlines for taking part in the new survival-style reality competition show Make Mate 1 after it was revealed that he is a North Korean defector.

According to media reports, his background wasn't revealed until the first episode premiered yesterday (May 15).

The show features a total of 36 participants - from South Korea, China, Taiwan, Japan and Thailand - and each were given the chance to introduce themselves through a keyword.

Hak-seong shocked fellow trainees when his keyword was "defector from North Korea".

"Is it okay for him to go on air?" asked Japanese trainee Miraku to which Korean participant Kim Si-on reassured: "Our country will protect us."

Hak-seong confirmed that he came to South Korea in 2017, when he was around the age of 13.

Rap coach Hanhae remarked how defecting at a young age would not have been easy and Hak-seong shared: "When I came to South Korea, I was most worried about adapting to society.

"I watched a lot of TV in my new home. I developed my dream of becoming an idol because the idols on TV were so cool."

He added that he was nervous about revealing his background but thought that he would be "running away or avoiding" his past if he didn't face it.

"I thought doing this would make me stronger," he said.

Vocal coach Lim Han-byul was impressed while Hanhae praised Hak-seong and expressed that he was "proud" of him.

When asked about a goal he wants to achieve if he debuts in the final line-up, Hak-seong said: "Rather than a goal, I want to give hope to those who are in difficult environments or are unable to do what they want to do - that you can do it."

Selected participants will be chosen at the end of the competition to form a boy group.

Make Mate 1 also features celebrities like Exo's Xiumin as the host and Mamamoo's Solar as one of the mentors and judges.


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