From Korea with Love

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Mary Viena on “Star King”

Mary Viena Park sings "Love Battery" with

Mary Viena Park sings “Love Battery” with Korean singer Hong Jin Young (Photo from SBS “Star King”)

Another Filipina has demonstrated her singing prowess on “Star King”, a popular reality television program in South Korea that features talented individuals both locally and internationally. It is the same show that jump-started Charice Pempengco’s international singing career. The Filipina who recently performed on the show is Mary Viena Tolentino Park, a native of Bulacan who came to work in Korea in 2009. She met a Korean named Park Jong Woong in 2010, and soon after, they got married.

The first time I heard of Mary Viena was when she became the first foreigner to win the grand prize in the 2011 KBS 1TV National Singing Contest finals. I also read an article about her success in Korea on Manila Bulletin. I can’t find the original article, but here is a copy of it on Korea Observer.

In an interview, Mary Viena said that she started joining singing contests in her native province as early as six years old. Her passion for singing did not stop her from joining singing contests in Korea even when she had to sing in a different language. She learned Korean by reading language books, enrolling in Korean language class and watching Korean dramas and films.

Mary Viena performed on “Star King” on October 25th. She sang the Korean trot song “Love Battery” with its original singer Hong Jin Young who stars on another reality television show called “We Got Married” where she plays the wife of actor Namgoong Min. Mary Viena also sang “Maria”, the original soundtrack of the movie “200 Pounds of Beauty” which became a hit in the Philippines. She also sang another Korean song in a game that prompted other guests to dance around the stage.

Congratulations, Mary Viena! We hope to see more of you on TV. ^^

MICA Bids Farewell to Superstar K


I could not watch the episode of Supertstar K6 last Friday, but the outpouring of negative reactions from Filipinos in South Korea that I have read on Facebook was enough for me to conclude that MICA was eliminated from the show. My first reaction was, “Why so soon?” I was expecting the group to stay a bit longer and at least make it to Top 3, but I suppose my husband was right. He told me from Day 1 of the live show that no matter how great the girls are as singers, they will most probably not win the contest because at some point, they will be asked to render Korean songs from which their elocution will be scrutinized by the judges. I have read some comments from Filipinos saying that Koreans tend to favor fellow Koreans in competitions against foreigners, that is why MICA was eliminated. I don’t even want to go there and sound bitter, though I am disappointed. I believe MICA deserves a spot in Superstar K6, but I am not one of the judges and I don’t hold all the votes. Korea has different standards when it comes to competitions. We will have to leave it at that.



As for MICA’s performance last Friday, the girls sang “난 알아요” (Nan Arayo/I Know) by Seo Tai Ji, and were given the scores: 86-89-82-89. Their performance showcased their flexibility in performing different musical genre. The song had some rap parts in English and Korean. The girls’ upbeat performance not only included rap and vocal belting, but also a lot of dance. It was like a production number. I made my husband watch the girls’ performance on Youtube to ask for an unbiased opinion from a Korean. He said the only problem with MICA’s rendition of “난 알아요” was pronunciation, especially on the rap parts. The girls were given just a couple of days to learn how to rap in Korean, but they managed to pull it off. I have been learning Korean for four years now and my pronunciation is still not that good. Despite getting the second  lowest scores, MICA gave an outstanding performance. It may not have been enough to please the judges, but MICA did not give a boring performance by “playing it safe” or performing the kind of song that we usually hear them sing. Their performance was not flawless, but the girls took the risk to perform something different, and it’s what makes them winners.

This is not the end of your journey to stardom, MICA. The best is yet to come. ^^

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