February 18, 1990 |
|Revised Romanization||Choe Seong-bong|
Choi Sung-bong (최성봉; Hanja: 崔聖奉, born 18 February 1990) is a South Korean vocalist who became famous after his appearance on Korea's Got Talent was picked up by the worldwide news media. He finished second in the competition.
- 1 Background
- 2 Korea’s Got Talent
- 3 About his Music
- 4 Essay
- 5 Broadcasting and Interview
- 6 Philanthropy
- 7 Award
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Being Born an Orphan, Growing up on the Street
Choi Sung Bong was born in Seoul and was abandoned in an orphanage at the age of 3. He ran away from the institution when he was 5 years old because of having been beaten often. He took the bus to Dae-Jeon and Started to live his life as a “street kid’ on the red light street. He slept on the stairwells and public washrooms, ate from the garbage and drank water in the closet pans of toilets to survive. He scraped a living by selling gums or energy drinks on the street or in the nightclub. The people he met were just mobs, bullies, and street vendors. He exposed to daily violence. He learned cuss world before everyday language. Choi said very bad things happened when he was young. He was trafficked from the place to place. He had lived that way on the street for about 10 years.
When he wandered around the red light street to sell gum, he kidnapped by mobs and he was buried in the hill. But he didn’t have anywhere to go, he had to go back to the street.Choi was inspired to pursue a career in music when he was 14 years old, after listening to a classical vocalist at the nightclub where he sold chewing gum He said he was particularly fascinated by the sincerity of the vocalist in contrast to the usual type of music heard at the club. He started to find a way to learn music without any information. He asked around to find music teachers but he was refused many times. He later found a teacher, Park Jung-So. After visiting the place Choi lived (to find out what Choi said is true) – it was just a worn-out couch in the night school, He agreed to teach him without charge and helped him get into an arts high school at age 16.
Name and His Age
When Choi lived on the street he was called Ji-Sung which was named by a street vendor lady. When he was around 14, he searched his fingerprint with the teacher of night school at the police station and found his real name and his age. But he prefer to be called Ji-sung, his street name. It sounds like “Sorry” in Korean.
He passed elementary school and high school GED, and graduated from Art high school. Now he is studying at the Kyung-Hee Cyber University
Kid unprotected by the parents and government
He was registered as a beneficiary of national basic livelihood in 2007. It was the year that he first slept in the ‘house’ in his life. Before that he had never gotten any social support from the government. He had encountered traffic accident several times, but he had never been received proper medical treatment for many years because of his financial status. To this day he suffers from physical and psychological sequelae (like ringing in ears) and get medical treatment regularly.
Before the Audition
At the age around 14, Choi hid in a night school to escape from mobs. He learned to read and write there and passed elementary school and middle school GED test. Because he really wanted to learn music and live like normal people, he entered art-high school in Dae-Jeon. He mentioned that there were no teachers to give him vocal training at the school since he did not have the financial resources to pay for master classes He worked at a delivery service to earn tuition and money for lessons, but it resulted in a traumatic fall during his 8:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. shift. He initially considered dropping out of high school, and his high school music teacher noted that Choi was often absent from classes due to his difficult situation. Choi passed the entrance exam of Han-Yang University but he could not continue with post-secondary education due to his limited financial resources Instead, he worked as a construction worker with the type of work similar to that of a day laborer. Choi said in that time, he suffered from decease of mind and thought ‘it’s Ok to die today or tomorrow
Korea’s Got Talent
Appearance and performance
On 6 June 2011, Choi's performance of "Nella Fantasia" moved judges and audience members to tears. He introduced himself as a manual laborer who had made a living selling gum and energy drinks for ten years. All the judges, Kolleen Park, Jang Jin and Song Yun-ah, were impressed with his vocal talent. Choi advanced to the finals of the competition, finishing second by 280 votes.
Choi's performance clip made it to YouTube and triggered a worldwide Internet sensation. His video clip has received many praise from pop star Justin Biber, BoA, Jung-Hwa Um, about hundred thousands of fans on face book and political figure including former president Lee-Myung-Park. One version with English subtitles has triggered international press interest  and a worldwide view that Choi was "the next Susan Boyle". The video itself has over 103,043,365 views as of December 5, 2013. And accumulated hits have been grown.
4 June 2011- After his first appearance on the show, some people accused him of hiding the fact that he had graduated art high school.
The production crews of KGT explained that “It was cut from the film during editing. He stated the graduation of art high school at the second local tryout, and the judges, crews and hundreds of audience heard that.” They broadcast the re-edited version including the statement.
After the KGT, major entertainment companies tried to contact with Choi. He signed up with Sony Music Korea Inc. but cancelled a contact in Dec. 2011. His current company is Bong Bong Company.
About his Music
Artistry – Crossover tenor
CNN commented that “His powerful baritone voice sounds as if it belongs to a man twice his age and build.”  Now he is trying different genre, crossover. His voice tone is soft and but emotionally appealing. Because it reflects his life and his strengths.
- Invitation Performance by Korean President, Charity performances and speeches
- Invitation Performance by Chairman of Cisco [San Diego, U.S.A, 2012.04]
- You Fest Main Final Concert (with Paul Potts) [Madrid, Spain, 2012.09]
- Sing the Korean National Anthem at inaugural ceremony of London Olympic [Seoul, 2012.07~08]
- Conducting Chorus of Global Multicultural Festival [Seoul, 2013.05]
- Halftime Performance of Suwon International Olympic “Peace cup” [Suwon, 2012.07]
- Teenager’s Healing Concert by Ministry of Environment [Seoul, 2012.07]
- Sing the Korean National Anthem at National Assembly in Constitution Day
(With Millennium Symphony) [Seoul, 2012.07]
- Andy – Live In Concert at the Greek Theatre [LA, U.S.A, 2012.08]
- Accompanied Performance with Seoul philharmonic, Mostly philharmonic, W philharmonic etc. ……
- Featuring Korea`s Got Talent // Nella Fantasia, Cinema Paradiso [Sony Music] 
- Featuring Popera Vocalist Park Jung So Nella Fantasia // Nella Fantasia 
- Featuring Popera Vocalist Park Jung So Because He Lives // Amazing Grace 
Choi wrote an essay “Singing is my life – Memoir of my journey from homeless to fame.” Which is about his growth. He said he don’t want live his life shackled to his past, but sudden attention and love he got became huge consolations to him. Also Choi said he wrote the book because he want to give love back. The book was published by Mun Hak Dong Ne, Korea and ranked best seller.
Broadcasting and Interview
Choi has appeared on music shows, Documentary films and talk shows both Korea and oversea. He appeared next to Justin Biber on el Hormie Guero, Spain. CNN and ABC headlined the interview with him. Choi said he want to challenge many thing that he couldn’t have done over the past 22 years. “It is blessing that I can live a life without starving, abusing and freezing. I’ll keep challenging and trying my best.”
TV show & Interview
Korea Got Talent season 1 [tvN 2011.06]
- Live Talk Show Taxi [tvN, 2011.09]
- Back Ji yeon’s People inside [tvN, 2011.09]
- Documentary Film Rebel of 3 color talent [tvN, 2011.09]
- Story on Kind Ms.Mi-sun [tvN, 2011.11]
- Opera star 2012 [tvN, 2012.02]
- Morning Garden [KBS1, 2012.05]
- el HORMI GUERO [Aantena3(Spain), 2012.05]
- KBS Speech 100℃ [KBS1, 2012.06]
- MBN News square [MBN, 2013. 02]
- Book club, CBS, CTS, CGV, TBS etc.……
- Lady Kyung Hyang [KOREA, 2011,2013]
- Korean Daily 100℃ [KOREA, 2012],
- Woman Sense [KOREA, 2013]
- Woman’s life [KOREA,2013] etc.…
- Public Advertisement for Election Committee 
- Radio Campaign “Wait a Minute” [MBC]
- The Korea Highway Corporation “Belt Song”
Choi is an honorary ambassador of the Children Fund – he was beneficiary before. He said, he won’t just say ‘have hope and dream’. He want to help people practically by giving a chance to live better life. He is helping starving children, orphans, foster families now. Also, he is an honorary ambassador of Chang Dong Social Welfare Center
“People who suffer have feelings that can’t explain in language. And I hope my performance give consolation and uplifting to them” He is doing performances and speeches for the neglected classes of people – multicultural families, single moms, Juvenile Hall, Hospice Centers etc.
He is sending money or goods to those who need, with talent donation activity.
- Semifinal Winner of Korea’s Got Talent Season 1
- 9th Candle Award by Pop Culture Critic of College Union
- New Artist by Foreign Correspondents Club
- List of YouTube personalities
- List of South Korean television series
- List of South Korean musicians
- Television in South Korea
- Rags to Riches Korean reality TV star Choi: 'Music was my only friend', August 21, 2011. Paula Hancocks, CNN. Retrieved September 13, 2012.
- "Korean Susan Boyle: 22-Year-Old Sung-Bong Choi Sings on Korea's Got Talent". TIME. 2011-05-27. Retrieved 2011-06-08.