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Jackie Chan K-pop auditions: inside the hard grind for Australian pop artists to make it big in South Korea -

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LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Asia has a thriving pop music industry, thanks to an audience of billions of young people with growing incomes and an appetite for cool music. At the centre of it is K-pop, Korean pop. A number of Australians are making names for themselves on the K-pop scene and one young man who hopes to join them is Henry Mak. He was plucked from obscurity for a boy band project, but he's finding quest for fame isn't all it's cracked up to be. Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reports.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP, REPORTER: At a dance studio in Sydney's Chinatown, scores of teenagers are taking their shot at fame.

BOY BAND MEMBER: Hello, everybody and welcome to Jackie Chan Group Korea audition.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Word has spread a burgeoning boy band is searching for fresh talent.

These young hopefuls aren't aiming for Hollywood or New York; their eyes are on Seoul, South Korea, where K-pop, short for Korean pop, is in hot demand.

YOUNG WOMAN: I'm a massive K-pop fan for like - I think about five years now. So, when they said there was an audition, I was like, "Yes! Line me up!"

YOUNG WOMAN II: I've been wanting this dream for a long time and this is a really good opportunity 'cause I live in Sydney.

YOUNG MAN II: Do you want to go in by yourself? Is that too much pressure?


YOUNG MAN II: OK, cool. No worries. That's the K-pop star attitude! (Laughs)

YOUNG MAN IV: I have a finished move. I didn't get to do it.

GIRL: Do it now! Do it now!

YOUNG MAN IV: I was gonna be like this. (Dancing) Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom and then pop out this. (Extracts piece of paper from his t-shirt)

YOUNG WOMAN III: Oh, don't show your number. Don't show your number.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: The members of this boy band have been on both sides of this table.

PRINCE MAK, BOY BAND MEMBER: I'm just a normal Australian-Chinese boy, and Jackie Chan, he made my dream come true.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Henry Mak, or Prince Mak, as he's now known, grew up in a Chinese family in Sydney's south-western suburbs and used to teach at this dance studio.

Four years ago, as this global hit sent K-pop stratospheric, Henry Mak won an audition and was placed in a Korean boy band call JJCC started by Hong Kong action movie star Jackie Chan.

PRINCE MAK: I couldn't speak a word of Korean. I didn't understand their culture. 'Cause Korean culture is very different to Chinese culture or Australian culture. A thousand people debut every year. And only - maybe only a hundred of them will survive to go on to the next year. It's a very, very competitive industry.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: And so where does your group sit in the hierarchy of K-pop?

PRINCE MAK: We've survived for two years. So, do the math yourself. (Laughs) Yeah, we survived for two years and we're still going strong.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Henry Mak joined a small legion of Australians cracking the profitable Asian music market.

JAMAICA DELA CRUZ, SBS POP ASIA: It's a lot more manufactured than Western pop. So, ...

?: Yeah, in most cases.

JAMAICA DELA CRUZ: They really like that slick, high-production look. It's made to be eye candy, it's made to be ear candy.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Prince Mak is back from Korea for the first time with his band to greet a curious Australian media.

PRINCE MAK: Before our comeback we eat once a day, we run three hours a day, dance for like seven, eight hours a day. (Sighs) Very hard, but I think we've gotten used to it now.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: It's been a gruelling four years to get this far.

PRINCE MAK: When I first went to Korea, I was called a big face, which means I'm fat. So I - before I debuted, I lost about six kilos. Yes. And from when I first went to Korea until now, I probably lost about nine kilos difference now. So - so I'm a small face now.

ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Australia, JJCC!

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: While Henry Mak is enjoying the perks of the limelight, he says he hasn't had a holiday since his journey began.

DAVID ROWLEY, MUSIC PUBLISHER: They sign contracts that will generally be considered by Australian standards unconscionable. Some will be 15 years. They get the equivalent of almost a sort of - almost a per diem. They'll be living in group housing. I think there was - a recent report in Billboard had the average pop star earning $60,000. There are some that are earning gazillions, which means that everybody else isn't.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: The regime sounds incredibly intense.

PRINCE MAK: Yes. Yes. If I knew about that, I probably wouldn't choose this road. But now it's a bit too late for me.

FAN: I'm just shaking. It was intense. I'm sorry.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: Did you feel emotional?

FANS (In unison): Yes!

FAN II: Very.

FAN III: Especially when the boys give you service, like blowing kisses or looking at you and pointing at you.

FAN II: Or showing their abs. Showing their abs was a good thing.

SEAN RUBINSZTEIN-DUNLOP: For the fans, it's the slavish devotion of their K-pop idols that keeps them coming back.

They give you service? What does that mean?

FAN III: Yes. We fall it fan service, so maybe they act cute or sexy or they wink at you or they give you a heart or point.

LEIGH SALES: Sean Rubinsztein-Dunlop reporting.

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Last Wednesday 7.30 referred to an ABC Online story alleging that a five-year-old child had been raped on Nauru. Today, the head of the Department of Immigration denied that incident had occurred.

Last week, Dr Karen Zwi spoke to the ABC about two cases. One was an older child the doctor said had been raped. The other was a five-year-old she said had been sexually assaulted.

7.30 incorrectly reported that the five-year-old was the rape victim. We apologise for the error and doctors Zwi stands by her original allegations.