The New Paper
19 October 2015
When asked to rate her daughter's singing, Madam Xiao Xiao smiled and bluntly replied, a two out of 10.
Yet, this mum is forking out two months of her income to send her 15-year-old daughter Xiaoyue to a K-pop boot camp - in South Korea.
The goal is for Xiaoyue to attend an audition held by some of the top entertainment companies there at the end of the boot camp, in hopes that she will get signed by them and realise her dream of becoming a K-pop singer.
Madam Xiao's two jobs - in IT and as a Chinese teacher at a tuition centre - earn her a total of $3,000 a month.
It will cost a whopping USD$3,800 (S$5,300) to join the two-week boot camp, which is being organised by local entertainment company Big Boss Entertainment.
Because it will be held in Seoul, South Korea, Madam Xiao will also have to pay for her daughter's plane ticket as well as her own, as she intends to fly there to accompany her daughter.
Her total expenditure is expected to be more than $6,000.
She is making the sacrifice because Xiaoyue is her only child and the love of her life.
Madam Xiao, 39, a Singapore PR who came here from Dalian, China, with her husband 10 years ago, told The New Paper: "Since she was a baby, I have found Xiaoyue to be very special.
"She has great strength of character, I trust her completely. Singing and dancing are her hobbies and once she expressed interest in wanting to be a K-pop star, I gave her my full support. My sacrifice will be worth it because her happiness means the world to me."
Lack of talent
On her daughter's lack of singing skill, Madam Xiao said that she hoped Xiaoyue, a Secondary 3 student at Bukit View Secondary School, will benefit from the training at the boot camp.
"My thoughts on this is that all I want is for her to give it a shot. The vocal coaches at the camp (who have worked with big names like Girls' Generation and Super Junior) I'm hoping can help her improve on her singing."
Madam Xiao said that her husband, who works in the shipping business, was not supportive of Xiaoyue's interest in pursuing K-pop as a career because he is "old school" and would like to see his daughter do something more "proper", like take on an office job.
But he has told Xiaoyue that he will not forbid her from joining the boot camp. So Madam Xiao has taken it upon herself to be her daughter's sole cheerleader.
She intends to fly to South Korea with Xiaoyue and stay at a friend's house there until Xiaoyue completes the boot camp. This is so that she can be there to help her daughter should she run into any difficulties.
Said Madam Xiao: "If Xiaoyue makes the cut, I will be very happy for her. If she doesn't, then at least she'll know. What's worse is that if she doesn't try, she'll always wonder about it. Thus I don't see this as me over-indulging her."
Xiaoyue, who is 1.69m tall and who turned up for the interview without make-up, looked pained when she heard her mum talking about her sacrifice.
She told TNP: "I feel bad that my mum is spending so much of her hard-earned money on me. We have a relationship that is different from most mothers and daughters. My mum is my best friend.
"In fact, the tuition centre she works at is next to my school so she even comes to watch me when I'm having my physical education classes."
Xiaoyue said that this may make other teenagers uncomfortable, but to her, it is a reflection of her mum's love and protective nature.
The aspiring jazz singer, who counts K-pop girl group 2NE1's leader CL as her idol, revealed that her mum has even helped her chase a boy she liked before.
"Last year, I told my mum I liked this boy in school so when he went for tuition at her tuition centre, she struck up a conversation with him and even bought him drinks.
"My mum hated him, but she still did it because that's how much she loves me. I never went out with the boy, but I am grateful for my mum's unwavering support.
"She's not over-protective, in fact, she likes it that I am a very independent person. She only gets involved with my life when I go to her for advice."
As for her dream of being a K-pop star, Xiaoyue is confident that she will make it through the two weeks at boot camp, which she has yearned to go for since she got wind of it recently.
Every night, she does half an hour of exercise along with sit-ups and squats.
The avid Korean drama fan is excited at the prospect of experiencing life as a K-pop trainee in Korea.
What about possibly meeting and falling in love with Korean heart-throbs during her stay?
Said Xiaoyue: "Honestly, I am not attracted to most of the members of K-pop boy bands because I find that they look feminine. They are too thin and have small faces. I like guys who look like they can protect me well. I like them with big muscles."
This article was first published on October 19, 2015.
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