South Korean talent agency interested in local singer Akif Halqi

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SINGAPORE - Korean pop stars were impressed by Singaporean Akif Halqi's soulful singing and slick dancing skills which won him the Best Vocal Award at the recent KBS K-pop World Festival.

Akif, 21, who won a trophy and 7 million won (S$8,300), says: "People were telling me that Monsta X said that my facial expression during the performance was good. Another person told me that Twice were cheering when my name was announced as the winner."

The boyband Monsta X and girl group Twice were part of the star-studded line-up at the event held in Changwon.

Akif's achievement was highlighted by Korean Ambassador to Singapore Lee Sangdeok at Korean National Day Reception on Tuesday night (Oct 3).

Later that night, Akif took to the stage at the Shangri-La Hotel ballroom to perform his winning piece, a rendition of Eyes, Nose, Lips, a ballad originally sung by BigBang member Taeyang.

When the full-time national serviceman went back to his army duties after the K-pop festival, he was greeted by the sound of his own singing.

He says: "My colleagues played the YouTube video of my performance All my sirs and enciks (superior officers) have been very supportive. Before I flew off, they asked me take care and wished me good luck in our WhatsApp chat group. When the news came out on The Straits Times, they posted the link to the news article, and joked that I am now a pop star."

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When he completes his NS stint in 2019, he hopes to break into the South Korean music industry.

He says: " I'm not sure how true it is, but I was told that a Korean talent agency was interested in me after watching the performance. But my translator told them that I am currently serving national service and they were like 'Oh, okay'. I will still be trying my best to try out with different agencies, but as for now, I have to serve the country first.

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