The next Girls' Generation?

SINGAPORE - At 11, she already knows what she wants to be - a K-pop star.

Other parents may dismiss it as a pipe dream, but Leona Yoong's father is behind her all the way.

The Primary 6 pupil at Zhangde Primary School was the youngest participant at the Dream Station K-pop Boot Camp held here last month.

The only other 11-year-old to sign up for the $380 four-day training programme was Goh Huixin, Leona's best friend from school.

The instructors comprised famous Korean vocal and dance trainers who have worked with K-pop greats such as Big Bang, Girls' Generation and Psy.

The goal is to simulate what K-pop stars have to undergo in terms of the training and food restrictions (vegetables, tofu and lean meat) to make it big.

Leona's father, Mr Wilfred Yoong, said he did not consider himself a typical Singaporean parent and said he would not pressure his daughter to become a doctor or a lawyer.

The assistant general manager, 49, told The New Paper: "Actually, I was the one who heard about the boot camp and asked Leona if she was interested in joining it because I know that she is very passionate about K-pop.

"She was jumping with joy and I feel that you are young only once. It's her world and she gets to decide what she wants to be when she grows up."

But Leona has to concentrate on her PSLE this year, Mr Yoong added.

Should she decide to pursue her dream of becoming a K-pop star, she will have her parents' support, including paying for her dance and vocal lessons and trips to South Korea for auditions.


Mr Yoong has also paid for Leona to watch her favourite K-pop concerts here, such as Girls' Generation, Miss A and Wonder Girls.

She said: "I fell in love with K-pop when I was nine after I watched some Girls' Generation videos on YouTube. What I love most are the dance moves which I learnt at the boot camp."

Leona said she was surprised to be the youngest there.

Of the other participants, who were mostly in junior college or university, she said: "They were all very kind and nice and we had a good time experiencing what it would be like if we were to become K-pop stars."

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