Photo: BTS/Jeremy Li
Singaporean singer Akif Halqi, 21, will be performing tonight at the same concert as BTS, currently South Korea’s most talked about boyband, who recently topped 73 iTunes charts worldwide.
He is the first Singaporean to feature in the KBS K-pop World Festival in Changwon, where the line-up this year includes girl group Twice and solo singer Ailee.
Speaking to The Straits Times from Seoul, Akif says: “I love Ailee and BTS. It is so overwhelming to share the stage with them. It makes me feel like I am living my dream of being a K-pop star, performing for thousands of people.”
The show, which will be aired live on South Korean broadcaster KBS World TV’s YouTube channel, features a singing competition in which Akif will be up against contestants from 12 other countries. The champion will win 12 million won (S$14,200).
Akif, a full-time national serviceman, is flying the Singapore flag in Changwon after he won the vocal category of the local selections at Tampines Hub last month and was later picked by KBS.
Now, he is getting a taste of a K-pop star’s life – from the thrill of performing in the limelight to the intense training in preparation for his big moment.
After flying to Seoul last Thursday, he has been undergoing vocal and dance training 12 hours a day for about a week. The sessions are guided by professional instructors who have taught K-pop idols such as mega boyband BigBang.
Akif is preparing to sing and dance to Eyes, Nose, Lips, a ballad originally performed by BigBang member Taeyang. He will be accompanied by two Singaporean dancers.
He says: “Of course, it is not easy. I feel homesick, exhausted, stressed, especially when I feel that I have a lot to improve on. But I want to train to become a better performer. It is a tiring but satisfying experience. It is my dream to be a K-pop singer.”
His parents are in Changwon to support him. In Singapore, his friends are gathering to watch the concert tonight on KBS World TV’s YouTube channel.
He says: “I feel proud to be representing Singapore. I want to show the world that although Singapore is a small country, we can achieve big things.”
This article was first published in The Straits Times.