American Teen Learns Korean, Wants to Be the Next K-Pop Star After Listening to EXO

An American girl who recently appeared on South Korean TV has embarked on the grueling journey of becoming a K-pop idol.

Maria, 17, fell in love with K-pop after listening to EXO’s “Call Me Baby” a few years ago.

Maria. Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

“The first K-Pop song I listened to was EXO’s ‘Call Me Baby.’ It drew me in because it was upbeat and made me want to dance!” she told Allkpop in a new interview.

Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

Soon, she found herself immersed in Korean culture, learning the Korean language all by herself.

“I love the Korean language and culture, so I have self-taught myself Korean via the internet for 2 years. I am conversational and nearly fluent in the language.”

Maria appears in a Korean newspaper in New York. Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

Maria currently attends a training academy called Born Star in Seoul, where she spends most of her time.

She also auditions for entertainment companies.

“I am currently auditioning for a variety of companies while attending an academy for singing, acting, and dancing. I go to the academy almost every day,” Maria said.

“I like to busk in the streets of Hongdae once in a while. But most of my time is spent at the academy.”

18년 7월 1일 히든싱어

A post shared by Maria 마리아 (@maria_liza17) on

Maria, who describes her artistic style as “fun, young and charming,” appeared on South Korean TV for the first time last month.

She was on JTBC’s “Hidden Singer,” a variety music show that pits pop stars and impersonators in a voice-only contest.

“‘Hidden Singer’ was very exciting because I was able to meet PSY sunbaenim in real life, and appeared on Korean television for the first time!” Maria recalled the experience.

Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

Maria is only one of the increasing number of non-Asian hopefuls in K-pop.

She appears to take the traditional route to the industry, contrary to experimental acts such as EXP Edition.

Maria with iconic Korean rock star Kim Tae-won. Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

For now, Maria strives to develop her talents — one of which is the whistle register.

She tells others to believe in themselves.

“Follow your dream, but more important than that, you have to believe in yourself. Faith and desire is the key.”

Image via Instagram / maria_liza17

Watch Maria’s cover of 15&’s “I Dream” below:

Featured Images via Instagram / maria_liza17 (Left) and YouTube / 코리아마리아  (Right)

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