updated 22 Oct 2012, 23:10
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Tue, Jan 17, 2012
The New Paper
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K-pop stardom for lucky trio?
by Charlene Chua

Singapore has come out tops in the race to K-pop stardom.

Three local girls were shortlisted out of 1,000 hopefuls at auditions held by two Korean entertainment companies on Saturday.

The casting directors from JYP Entertainment (they manage superstars like Wonder Girls, 2PM and miss A) and Alpha Korea (former manager of Girls' Generation and Super Junior) are here for a two-day session to check out hopefuls - and they have extremely stringent selection criteria.

The shortlist rate is typically less than 1 per cent.

Just last month, the same companies held auditions in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Only five out of 6,000 people who auditioned were shortlisted, and none of the five made the final cut.

It took almost eight hours - the first day of the Singapore auditions started at 8.30am yesterday - before the casting directors picked their first girl, 15-year-old Damai Secondary student Carinda Kao, who sang Stronger by Kelly Clarkson.

She tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I was very shocked when they called my number and told me to meet someone who would take me to another room.

"I feel that my singing wasn't at its best but I still got picked, so I'm just so happy."

By 6pm, two other hopefuls - Tricia Teo and Brenda Go - were picked from the hordes that had turned up at the Management Development Institute Of Singapore (MDIS) on Stirling Road.

Tricia, a 14-year-old St Margaret's Secondary School student, was only 30 seconds into Adele's Someone Like You when she was cut off and told to step forward and smile.

She was terrified as she had thought that the judges were unhappy with her braces.

She says: "As I smiled, I thought, 'Oh dear, it must be my braces'.

"I thought they were going to send me home.

"They said something in Korean, which I didn't understand, then I was just told to step back in line."

It was only after the other nine hopefuls in the room finished singing that the 2PM fan realised that she had been shortlisted.

The shortlisted girls were ushered into a private room on the fifth floor where they did a photoshoot and a video.

They introduced themselves in English and Mandarin, then posed for head shots and full-length photographs.

Carinda says she was asked to relax her face as she looked too tense.

While Tricia jived easily to Beyonce's Run The World (Girls) - thanks to her year's worth of dance lessons - Carinda panicked as she had only prepared to sing at her audition.

Carinda, a SHINee fan, says: "They played some random music and told me to dance. So when I heard Be My Baby (by the Wonder Girls) come on, I made random movements.

"I'm not a dancer so I'm not good at dancing. It was very embarrassing.

"But they told me it was okay so I felt better after that."

After dancing, each girl had to sing three more songs in the gruelling session.

They will only know in a month's time whether K-pop stardom is in their future.

For now, they are still reeling from the euphoria of being shortlisted.

Tricia says: "I will definitely quit school if I am selected to be in a Korean girl group. "My parents have given me their consent to do so already."

This is the second time the JYP & Alpha auditions are taking place here.

Two local girls - Natasha Low and Ferlyn Wong - were picked from the first audition two years ago and they will make their debut as part of a K-pop girl group in Korea in a few months' time.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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