Can Korean contestant Kim Seul-ki make it to the Final 5 on Taiwan’s Super Idol 4?

Kim Seul-ki: South Korea's lone Super Idol representative

The fourth season of Taiwanese talent show competition Super Idol has not disappointed, and after the most recent broadcast of the popular program, the list of competitors have narrowed down to a group of lucky 21 from the several thousand hopefuls prior to this season’s launch.  This season continues the tradition of previous Super Idol seasons by offering yet another interesting batch of singers still in the game.  There’s Ah Ga 曾昱嘉, the awkward otaku-looking guy who’s pretty much the favorite to win it all.  You’ve got Dora Wu 吳汶芳, the “cute girl next door” singer who has huge solo aspirations after her successful run as a duo in Super Idol 2.  Mollie Chang 張依安’s also worth mentioning, as she hopes to make it to the final group of five with a combination of singing and dancing skills.  And then there’s Kim Seul-ki 金實基.

If you’ve never seen Super Idol, you might just think that Seul-ki is just another face in the competition, until you find out that he’s actually Korean.  Not half-Korean like male vocalist Harry from Mandopop group Da Mouth.  Not fake Korean like hugely popular Taiwanese entertainer Show Luo.  No, Seul-ki is a full-blooded Korean that has reached the most difficult batch of 21 remaining contestants on the top Taiwanese singing competition.

Seul-ki going through song lyrics with fellow contestant Dora Wu

That’s not to say that non-Taiwanese or non-ethnic Chinese are generally rare in Super Idol though.  Unlike similar talent show competitions in mainland China, where producers of the show bar foreigners from competing in the final rounds of their programs, Super Idol has in fact had an open door policy to anyone, regardless of race or nationality.  It’s not an empty promise either, as the winner and runner-up of previous Super Idol 2 hail from Malaysia.  The program’s only “requirement” is that they at least try to sing some songs in Chinese, or else it would defeat the purpose of finding the next Taiwanese idol if he or she can't even sing in the country's primary language.

There has also been some pretty notable non-ethnic Chinese that have participated in Super Idol.  Last season, viewers got to witness the Ricky Martin-inspired half-Indian Luo Ping shake his bon bon, and got amazed by the white American Benjamin actually being fluent in Mandarin.  This season’s no different either, with Taiwanese aboriginal Hu Zhen-huan clearly being the other favorite to win it all, and half-white Diana Spencer finally pleasing the judges by singing non-English songs recently.  But the difference with the other non-ethnic Chinese contestants is that Seul-ki has a massive Taiwanese female following because they have their very own singing Korean hunk in their own backyard.  You can't really blame them for that.

Seul-ki taking a break from singing practice

It wasn’t as if though the producers of Super Idol had some sort of Korean contestant quota and had Seul-ki flown in to Taiwan to participate.  The lone Korean representative to the hit talent show program was actually here for school, attending the prestigious National Chengchi University in the southern outskirts of Taipei City, a school known for being one of the country’s top business and law programs.  And the university already has a substantially large Korean population studying at that university for international business or Chinese Mandarin language studies, so Seul-ki already has a taste of home away from home, even though Taipei itself is notoriously bad for its Korean cuisine.

The really weird thing about the anomaly that is Seul-ki, besides being Korean, is that no one really knows if he’s good or bad.  The Korean phenom is hugely unpredictable when it comes to his performances, and the judges are quick to remind him on that.  On one performance, he barely qualified to the next round simply due to his novelty as being Korean.  On another performance, he displayed finalist credentials when he masterfully channeled the talented Eason Chan in one of his songs.

Seul-ki and fellow duet partner Guo Ying-jun during the singing duet episode

It should also be noted that Seul-ki isn’t completely safe when he sings in Korean either.  While his rendition of Park Hyo-shin’s “Snow Flower” from Korean drama “I’m Sorry, I Love You” saved him from being kicked off the show, his effort on Super Junior’s “Sorry, Sorry” was a complete vocal mess but was spared the ax when another contestant forgot the lyrics to his chosen song.

Quite simply, Seul-ki is an amazing contestant on Super Idol 4.  That is, it’s amazing that Seul-ki’s actually gotten to the lucky group of 21.  The guy’s gotten a lot of breaks on the show, with other contestants either not bringing their A-game when he himself has a bad night, or with him shining when he has to.  Who knows if Seul-ki is on the show on borrowed time, or if simply hasn’t hit his idol singer stride yet to be Mandopop’s secret weapon.  What is known though is that when he’s good, he’s awesome, and when he’s bad, he totally sucks.

Seul-ki posing with fellow contestant and finalist favorite Ah Ga

Nonetheless, Seul-ki has been really a treat to watch, simply because he’s been an interesting anomaly on the show.  Let’s just hope that Seul-ki takes a page out of fellow contestant Mollie Chang’s playbook by performing songs that he’s great at, which looks to be power ballads.  Otherwise, he’ll be “Sorry, Sorry” that he decided to play against his strengths.

Forgive Me 原諒我 (Jam Hsiao 蕭敬騰) and Snow Flower 雪之花 (Park Hyo-shin 박효신):

I Believe (Shin Seung-hun 신승훈):

Way Back into Love (Hugh Grant & Haley Bennett):

Give You 給你 (Eason Chan 陳奕迅):

Sorry, Sorry (Super Junior):

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