Tuesday, February 28, 2012

From Rags to Riches: Choi Sung-Bong

21-year-old Choi Sung-Bong blew away the judges and audience when he appeared on "Korea's Got Talent" with not just his singing, but his powerful story as well. 

Between being orphaned at age three and running away from orphanage because of abuse at age five, Choi has never had an easy life. For the next 10 years after running away, he lived on the streets, surviving by selling gum and drinks. He slept in night-club stairwells or public toilets with only a few layers of clothes to keep him warm during Korea's harsh winters. When asked what continued his will to live and what gave him comfort he responds by saying it was music. Choi says he "felt calm when he listened to music…music was my only friend when I was lonely." After hearing an opera-style singer in one night-club, he knew what he wanted to. After much searching, he found former opera singer Park Jung-So. Park began training him free of charge and helped him pass the state examination so he could attend an arts high school at age 16. Through a children's foundation, Child Fund Korea, Choi was able to have a place of his own, a government subsidized place. 

To learn more about the author of this article Eileen Wacker and her acclaimed book series,  visit ONCEKids, ONCEKids on Facebook ONCEKids on Twitter.

After coming in second place on "Korea's Got Talent," Choi says he now has something to live for and he hopes his music can help others the way it helped him. 

To learn more about inspiring people and Asian culture, please visit Fujimini Island, find Fujimini Island on Facebook, follow Fujimini Island on Twitter.

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