K-Pop Star

Beyond what has already been shared in your application, what do you believe makes you stand out as a strong candidate for admissions to the University of California?

My eyes glistened as I watched a documentary on Korean Pop Stardom. The trainees were subject to strict diets, inflexible rules, and practice from morning to midnight. The video intended to reveal the supposed horrors of the industry. Yet, as a young and starry-eyed child, I stood transfixed.

I dreamed of the high-intensity lifestyle: spending endless nights practicing, the avant-garde music videos, my eventual, and highly anticipated, debut. The experience would catapult me to fame—sold-out concerts, monetary gifts, and a permanent spotlight. However, becoming a celebrity was an unlikely feat, and I soon replaced my illusory aspirations with a sense of sobering reality.

Years after I gave up my dream, I was scouted by JYP Entertainment, the largest entertainment company in Korea. The agent was visiting my area for a nearby audition, and she expressed interest in recruiting me to the company. Although 11-year-old me would have jumped to the opportunity, 16-year-old me was far more contemplative.

People often ask why I didn’t take the offer, but I realized what I wanted was true fulfillment, not faux gratification. Even though I had once envisioned myself as a K-pop idol, I began to realize that fame is merely a temporary...

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