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TEST YOURSELF: Surviving K-pop training

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Kongthap Peak is the only Thai on the Korean show Produce X 101

Test Yourself is where you can improve your reading skills. Whether it’s for tests like University Entrance Exams or IELTS and TOEFL, or even just for fun, these stories help you to read, understand and improve your English.

You can download a PDF of this story to be used in class or at home. Click the link below.

Read the following story by Suwitcha Chaiyong from the Bangkok Post. Then, answer the questions that follow.

Idol groups from South Korea like BTS, EXO, Blackpink and Twice seem to come with the whole package -- the talent, the looks and the personality. But before reaching stardom, every one of them went through intense trainings for years.


Produce X 101 is a popular reality TV programme in South Korea. The show allows viewers to explore how trainees fight their way to become K-pop successes. To qualify as the show's 11 finalists, 101 trainees from several music labels were required to team up to perform as a group, but as individuals they still had to stand out in order to gain votes from Korean viewers. During the show, all trainees were guided by professional singing and dancing coaches who helped enhance their skills. Since 2016, Produce X 101 created four famous temporary pop groups: I.O.I, Wanna One, IZ*ONE and X1.

Kongthap Peak, an aspiring actor from Channel 3 and singer from Chandelier Music, was the only Thai trainee who had participated in Produce X 101's latest season, which ended in July. Before taking part in the show, Kongthap was a model at the 2019 Hera Seoul Fashion Week in South Korea and later a singing guest on Korean TV music game show I Can See Your Voice.

For the now-18-year-old Thai singer, life as a trainee in the show wasn't a bed of roses. Although he kicked off the show with his impressive introduction video, which garnered 1 million views on YouTube, he was about to give up as he fought freezing weather and received a "D" grade for his first evaluation.

"I decided to stay because if I quit, they would say a Thai trainee gave up easily," he said, smiling.

"I'm the kind of person who likes to smile and believe everything will come out good even though my hands were really hurt," Kongthap recalled of the training. "If I didn't enjoy the performance, what was the point of practice and to be on the stage? I gave all I got."


If long hours of practice are proven effective, should Thailand have this kind of programme for those who want to be in showbiz?

"We should have similar training, but not this intense. You have to save your body. Practising for 20 hours a day could blur your mind. My body can handle a maximum of 12-13 hours. For Thailand, I would suggest interval breaks. It will be more effective."

At the end of the programme, Kongthap didn't make it to the 30 finalists. But during his time in South Korea, he admitted he'd learned a lot about K-pop. As a fan of BTS and EXO, he said one of the reasons K-pop bands succeed internationally is that artists can maintain their own characteristics.

"They are unique," he said. "I like K-pop because I like upbeat music and I had never heard anything like this before. In one song, K-pop has elements of singing, dancing and rapping. It's cool."

Kongthap is now working in Thailand. He released a Thai-English pop and hip-hop song, Laek (Exchange), for which he wrote the English rap part himself.

"I wrote the lyrics before I was in Produce X 101. Surprisingly, everything I wrote was similar to my experience on the show. The song is a story of someone who has a dream."

After the single release, Kongthap will work both in Thailand and South Korea. He will also star in an upcoming Thai TV romcom called Dare To Love alongside prominent actress Ranee "Bella" Campen.

Section 1: Read through the story and answer the following questions. 

1. How many finalists are in Produce X 101? …………….

2. Which TV show did Kongthap make his Korean debut on?

3. Kongthap had problems with the Korean weather. True or false? …………….

4. He is an optimistic person. True or false? …………….

5. What is the most number of hours he can take of training? …………….

6. He was one of the last 30 contestants on the show. True or false? …………….

7. K-pop reminds him of other music he’s heard. True or false? …………….

8. He wrote a rap in English after his time on the show. True or false? …………….

Section 2: Write the noun form of the following words. 

9. intense .…..…10. qualify ……..…11. guided …….…12. maintain.……13. similar .…………

Section 3: Read the following passage. Then, fill in the blanks with the correct words from the choices given.

"I …14… …15… acting workshops with Ranee. And I …16… have a song which …17… be produced by a Korean producer. The song probably includes English, Korean and Thai lyrics, but the release date …18… been scheduled yet," Kongthap …19… .

14. a. am  b. have c. had

15. a. do b. have c. had

16 and 17. a. won’t b. can  c. will 

18. a. hasn’t b. haven’t  c. will not

19. a. ended b. said c. says

Section 4: Find words or idioms that match the following definitions.

20. a person or thing that is loved and admired very much ……………

21. wanting to be successful in life……………

22. (idiom) an easy or a pleasant situation ……………

23. producing a successful result …………

24. a wish to have or be something ……………

Answers: 1. 11. 2. I Can See Your Voice. 3. True. 4. True. 5. 13. 6. False. 7. False. 8. False. 

9. intensity. 10. qualification. 11. guide/guidance. 12. maintenance. 13. similarity.

14. b. 15. c. 16 and 17. c. 18. a. 19. b.20. idol. 21. aspiring. 22. a bed of roses. 23. effective. 24. dream.

SCORE 21-24: Excellent! 17-20: Good.   13-16: Fair.   12 or fewer: You'll do better next time!

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