Korean-American Singer Makes Final of 'American Idol'

Han Hee-jun has become the first Korean to appear in the final of "American Idol." He made it into the Top 13 of the hit Fox TV audition program last Thursday and will compete against the other finalists on Wednesday. The show is now in its 11th season.

"American Idol" is hugely popular in the States, where it regularly attracts viewer ratings of up to 30 percent, and has inspired copycat shows around the world, including Korea's own "Superstar K." Some of the program's season winners have gone on to enjoy huge success, notably Season 1 winner Kelly Clarkson.

While some young hopefuls of Korean descent have progressed through the rounds, however, none have yet made the final. Korean-Americans John Park, runner-up of "Superstar K2," and Paul Kim, who appeared in MBC's "Star Audition," made it to the Top 24 in Season 9 and Season 6 of American Idol, respectively.

Among the Top 13, 10 are selected based on viewers' votes and the remaining three are chosen by the show's three judges. Han advanced by popular demand from fans.

Han moved to the U.S. when he was 12 and currently lives in Flushing, New York, which has a large Korean community. Although he is an American citizen, he still holds Korean citizenship.

The 22-year-old, who works with missionaries at a charity that helps people with disabilities, said he decided to take part in "American Idol" to help the charity with its fundraising efforts. Han said volunteering helped him overcome some of the challenges he faced when he was struggling to adapt to his new life in the U.S.

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