Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

Young musician has stars in her eyes

Jenny Cha will have to move to Seoul if she is picked as a potential K-Pop star. Photo / Natalie Slade
Jenny Cha will have to move to Seoul if she is picked as a potential K-Pop star. Photo / Natalie Slade

Ten-year-old Jenny Cha was born in New Zealand and speaks more English than Korean - but she dreams of becoming a Korean pop starlet.

On Saturday, the Pinehill Primary student will join about 1000 other youngsters at an audition in Auckland to find potential K-Pop stars to be promoted by one of South Korea's largest entertainment agencies.

For the first time, two of Korea's biggest entertainment labels, JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment - which launched some of K-Pop's biggest names like Wonder Girls, 2PM and Girls Generation - are taking the talent search to New Zealand.

"I want to be the first Kiwi girl to be part of a Korean girl group," said Jenny, who has been following K-Pop music on the internet and Korean television channels since she was 3.

Jenny sings, dances and plays the guitar and piano.

If selected, she will have to move to Seoul, possibly for three years, to be groomed as a solo artist or part of a new girl group.

South Korean pop music and dramas have millions of fans around the world, part of a phenomenon known as "hallyu" or the Korean cultural wave.

JYP's casting manager, Jane Kim, said having a Kiwi K-Pop star could cement its hold on the Kiwi fan base.

Miss Kim said having a Thai, Nichkhun Horvejkul, in her company-backed boy band 2PM had done wonders for the industry in Thailand.

"Now lots of Thai bands are even copying K-Pop's dancing style singing groups," she said.

"That's probably what would happen here too if there was a Kiwi star."

JYP will be holding auditions all day on Saturday at the Rendezvous Hotel.

SM Entertainment's auditions will be the following weekend.

- NZ Herald

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