Chasing her K-pop dream

When asked to rate her daughter's singing, Madam Xiao Xiao smiled and bluntly replied, a two out of 10.

Yet, this mum is forking out two months of her income to send her 15-year-old daughter Xiaoyue to a K-pop boot camp - in South Korea.

The goal is for Xiaoyue to attend an audition held by some of the top entertainment companies there at the end of the boot camp, in hopes that she will get signed by them and realise her dream of becoming a K-pop singer.

Madam Xiao's two jobs - in IT and as a Chinese teacher at a tuition centre - earn her a total of $3,000 a month.

It will cost a whopping USD$3,800 (S$5,300) to join the two-week boot camp, which is being organised by local entertainment company Big Boss Entertainment.

Because it will be held in Seoul, South Korea, Madam Xiao will also have to pay for her daughter's plane ticket as well as her own, as she intends to fly there to accompany her daughter.

Her total expenditure is expected to be more than $6,000.

She is making the sacrifice because Xiaoyue is her only child and the love of her life.

Madam Xiao, 39, a Singapore PR who came here from Dalian, China, with her husband 10 years ago, told The New Paper: "Since she was a baby, I have found Xiaoyue to be very special.

"She has great strength of character, I trust her completely.

"Singing and dancing are her hobbies and once she expressed interest in wanting to be a K-pop star, I gave her my full support.

"My sacrifice will be worth it because her happiness means the world to me."


On her daughter's lack of singing skill, Madam Xiao said that she hoped Xiaoyue, a Secondary 3 student at Bukit View Secondary School, will benefit from the training at the boot camp.

"My thoughts on this is that all I want is for her to give it a shot.

"The vocal coaches at the camp (who have worked with big names like Girls' Generation and Super Junior) I'm hoping can help her improve on her singing."

Madam Xiao said that her husband, who works in the shipping business, was not supportive of Xiaoyue's interest in pursuing K-pop as a career because he is "old school" and would like to see his daughter do something more "proper", like take on an office job.

But he has told Xiaoyue that he will not forbid her from joining the boot camp.

So Madam Xiao has taken it upon herself to be her daughter's sole cheerleader.

She intends to fly to South Korea with Xiaoyue and stay at a friend's house there until Xiaoyue completes the boot camp.

This is so that she can be there to help her daughter should she run into any difficulties.

Said Madam Xiao: "If Xiaoyue makes the cut, I will be very happy for her.

"If she doesn't, then at least she'll know.

"What's worse is that if she doesn't try, she'll always wonder about it. Thus I don't see this as me over-indulging her."

Xiaoyue, who is 1.69m tall and who turned up for the interview without make-up, looked pained when she heard her mum talking about her sacrifice.

She told TNP: "I feel bad that my mum is spending so much of her hard-earned money on me.

"We have a relationship that is different from most mothers and daughters. My mum is my best friend.

"In fact, the tuition centre she works at is next to my school so she even comes to watch me when I'm having my physical education classes."

Xiaoyue said that this may make other teenagers uncomfortable, but to her, it is a reflection of her mum's love and protective nature.

The aspiring jazz singer, who counts K-pop girl group 2NE1's leader CL as her idol, revealed that her mum has even helped her chase a boy she liked before.

"Last year, I told my mum I liked this boy in school so when he went for tuition at her tuition centre, she struck up a conversation with him and even bought him drinks.

"My mum hated him, but she still did it because that's how much she loves me.

"I never went out with the boy, but I am grateful for my mum's unwavering support.

"She's not over-protective, in fact, she likes it that I am a very independent person. She only gets involved with my life when I go to her for advice."

As for her dream of being a K-pop star, Xiaoyue is confident that she will make it through the two weeks at boot camp, which she has yearned to go for since she got wind of it recently.

Every night, she does half an hour of exercise along with sit-ups and squats.

The avid Korean drama fan is excited at the prospect of experiencing life as a K-pop trainee in Korea.

What about possibly meeting and falling in love with Korean heart-throbs during her stay?

Said Xiaoyue: "Honestly, I am not attracted to most of the members of K-pop boy bands because I find that they look feminine.

"They are too thin and have small faces. I like guys who look like they can protect me well. I like them with big muscles."


Why does taking part in The True K-pop Experience cost US$3,800 (S$5,300)?

This is because at the end of the camp, participants will get a chance to audition for the top 10 entertainment agencies in Korea.

These entertainment greats, which includes JYP Entertainment and Cube Entertainment, which have Rain, 4Minute's Hyuna, Wonder Girls, Miss A and 2PM in their stable of artists, are looking to sign international talent as singers or actors.

The cost also includes food, accommodation, fees for the vocal coaches, dance instructors, stylists and photographers who are involved with the camp.

This boot camp, organised by local entertainment company Big Boss Entertainment (BBE) in partnership with Korea's JT Corea Entertainment, is open to anyone from anywhere in the world and of any age.

BBE, which is a co-operation between local entertainment companies Wise Entertainment and iGlobal Star, manages singers Stefanie Sun and SKarf respectively.

BBE's director Darren Wee told TNP: "We're not imposing any restrictions because we're looking for people with that something special.

"It doesn't mean that the best-looking participants will have the x-factor so you never know.

"All those who sign up will be screened by us first to see if they are suitable for the boot camp."

There will be 15 people in each batch accepted for the camp.

The first batch will attend the camp in Korea from the middle to the end of next month.

This is the first time such a boot camp is being organised by BBE as their aim is to find the next big thing through their direct link with Korea.

Their partner, JT Corea Entertainment, is managed by personnel who used to work at SM Entertainment, which manages Girls' Generation and Super Junior.

If the boot camp takes off, BBE will decide if they will hold more camps in the future.

Registration for The True K-pop Experience will start today, after 2pm via BBE's Facebook page.

For the two weeks in Seoul, boot camp participants will stay together at a hostel, just like the K-pop trainees in Korea.


During the first few days of the camp, participants will be given a make-over by top Korean stylists.

They will then be expected to ace a photoshoot.

They will also be subjected to vocal and dance training for up to eight or nine hours a day.

At the end of the camp, there will be a big, final audition, which will make it or break it for these hopefuls.

Said Mr Wee: "The chances of the participants getting signed is high if the Korean entertainment companies see potential in them to be singers or actors.

"There is no fixed number of participants who will get signed or not.

"One batch could have many successful hopefuls, another could have none at all."

This article was first published on October 19, 2015.
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