Soompi Rising Legends is an “ultimate fan-led talent search” that brings in talent from all over the world to compete for victory in three categories. The winner of each category is given the opportunity to go through a one-on-one interview with a JYP talent recruiter!

This year’s Soompi Rising Legends rap category winner, Asel Hallaç, was chosen as a winner above thousands of contestants. In this interview, you can get a glimpse of her energetic and lovely personality and her experience competing in the Soompie Rising Legends!

Hi Asel, congratulations on winning the contest and thank you for participating in the interview with us. First and foremost can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

My name is Asel Hallaç. I’m 16 years old and Turkish. I am a chocolate addict and I love watching anime. I have a cat’s personality but I’m more like a dog person. I think I’m a candid person and I like hugs. My friends are very valuable to me. I like to help people and make them laugh. I believe in zodiac signs and I’m an Aquarius. I think my humility comes from my zodiac sign. I’m a free spirit and I like people who are different and fun.

When did you know that you wanted to be a singer, and how did you first discover your talent? Does the talent run in your family? 

My family recognized my talent and supported as I started growing up. To answer where I got my talent from, my dad said he used to play a few instruments and sing songs. My mom has talent too but I think I got it mostly from my dad.

Do you recall the first moment that you came across K-pop and how you felt? What was it like to grow up listening to it? 

Of course! How could I forget that day? I found about K-pop for the first time because of K-dramas in 2015. When I was looking for videos of one of my favorite actors: Haegyo. I then came across a video of EXO. I had heard about a couple of bands before, but I never searched about them. Basically, my interest in K-pop started because of sitcoms and Exo. I found a couple of other singers and bands after EXO and also started listening to different types of music such as Korean hip-hop. My interest in music changed a lot after I discovered K-pop. I gave up on all the music I used to listen to and focused on k-pop. Of course I got back to listening to the old music I liked, but I didn’t stop listening to K-pop. The ones around me found it a little weird at first but they got used to it later.

Is K-pop a popular genre of music in Turkey, how is it perceived in your country?

I’m not sure because not a lot of people around me knew about it when I first got into K-pop. The more I started to have an interest with k-Pop I met more people and learned that there is actually a big fan base in my country.

As a non-native speaker of Korean, what kind of ways helped you overcome the language barrier when you perform? 

I like Korea’s nature, history, food and the fact that it has lots of places where you can travel. I like the food especially, would never change it for anything else. I like the people of my country, they are really nice and welcoming people. Actually, I didn’t really have lots of problems. Even though I didn’t have any Korean lessons I could sing the songs memorizing the lyrics and of course all the songs I listened to and all the dramas I watched helped a lot too.

From what I’ve seen from your performances and YouTube videos, you are both an amazing singer and a rapper. Is there a specific reason why you chose to enter into the rap category? 

First of all I want to say thank you very much. I joined the K-pop festival for my vocals. People knew I could sing but I really wanted to show that I could rap too. I discussed this with my parents and they supported me.

What drew you into Korean hip-pop? 

Hip-hop was a genre that I liked, but BTS introduced me to Korean hip-hop. I really respect and love Suga, Rap Monster and J-hope as rappers. There are so many rappers I love that I cant even count them. They are all amazing!

You said that you’ve never been trained professionally in vocals or rap, but yet you have so much talent. How did you then prepare for this contest? 

Ha ha you’re making me blush thank you so much! When I found out about the competition there was only two days left to make a submission. I chose my songs quickly and I just went into it to participate. I really didn’t have any expectations because everything was prepared so suddenly. A couple of days later I got a message saying that I was one of the 50 people out of 5000 participants, and that’s when the real adventure began. I didn’t really do anything for my performances, because I didn’t have time. It was so tiring but I’d do it all over again because I think it was all worth it. It’s like “just go with the flow” really.

In your interview with K-Magazine, you mentioned how the competition got more and more intense. How did you deal with the pressure and stress of the competitive environment? 

To be honest, I thought that I was going go crazy for a while. I’ve never been in a competition like this before and it was so stressful for me. We wasted a lot of time on recording. One time, my voice was too low and another I just wasn’t in the mood to do my best. But my love for singing helped me get through these lows. Of course, I compared myself with the others, but thanks to family and friends I was able to overcome those stressful times.

Did you ever come across moments of self-doubt? If so, how did you overcome it? 

Of course I did, and I still do have moments of self-doubt. I’m someone who always wants to be best, but I always think that what I do is never enough. Especially when I watched the videos of me performing, I was sad because I thought that I could have done better. All the nice comments from everyone gave me more motivation and made me feel more confident. I really want to say thanks for all the support I received, especially from my family and friends. I will work really hard and do amazing things. That’s my dream!

Which K-pop and K-hip pop artists have influenced you the most and how? 
It’s really hard to give an answer to this question. I have tons that I love. To name some, I really like Taeyeon, BTS, Dean, Zion T, Zico, Cheetah, Yezi, Nam Taehyun, BTS members, Seventeen members, and Monsta X members.

Did you have a lot of support from your friends and family? Are your friends and family also a fan of K-pop? 

Yes, they are. Back when I first found out about K-pop, I told my friends about my plans to apply to a company and instead of finding it weird, they supported me all throughout it all. None of them were fans of K-pop but because of me, both my friends and my family started listening to it!

How did you feel when you found out that you were selected as a winner? 

The first thing I felt was comfort. Until the results were announced, I didn’t even realized that I was actually incredibly exhausted and stressed. Probably because there isn’t a word such as “fatigue” in my dictionary while I’m singing. I had a moment of realization about my tiredness, and I got incredibly excited. It made me very happy. I still can’t believe all of it. Who wouldn’t be happy though? I wish the best for every single one of my talented and ambitious friends who are walking on this road!

Now that you have won the competition, what are the next steps that you are planning to take to achieve your dream? Was there a prize for winning this competition? 

At the end of this contest I won a chance to do a video interview with JYP. I’m waiting now. I also constantly train myself and try to improve my skills. If I get declined, I do want to try auditioning for other companies.

Do you see yourself in the mainstream K-pop scene in the near future, is that where you want to be? 

As you know JYP Entertainment’s CEO, JY Park’s goal is to spread K-pop out of Asia and that’s a different approach than other companies. After all, K-pop needs to make differences and upgrade itself to reach other people worldwide. I find it a positive movement for K-pop, and I’m proud to be a part of that. Although it looks like a radical decision to involve foreigners to K-pop, it’s a better decision for K-pop’s near future. It keeps on spreading and people from other countries want to see someone singing from their country. At least I can say that by my observation, what I’ve seen while I was competing was that the others who attended the contest got their support mostly from their countries. What all of them wanted was to see their representatives of their countries to be there.

I heard that you are going to be interviewing with JYP Entertainment, does that mean that you will possibly become an officially trainee of JYP? 

Like I said in the following answers, I’m still waiting for the interview to happen. JYP’s plan is to include more people outside Korea in the K-pop scene, and that could mean that I can be a trainee. I shouldn’t talk big though. ^^

Is there anything else you would like to say? 

Firstly, thank you so much for interviewing me. I’m sure there’s a lot of Turkish people that want to be an idol in South Korea. Not only them, a lot of people from different nationalities and races want that. Some want to see foreigners in the industry, but some are against that. South Korea is a well-known and beloved country. I don’t see any reason as to why they don’t train foreign trainees. There’s a lot people who really want to be a part of this industry but they’re withdrawn just because they’re not Korean or Asian. In my opinion, do your best. If you think you have the talent, improve yourself more and never give up. You never know what happens in life. I never would have thought that I would be in this position right now. Thank you so much for showing me that some dreams don’t always stay as they are, but they also come true. I wouldn’t be here without your support. Please keep supporting me. Endless love and thanks to all of you!
Follow Asel Hallaç on Facebook, on YouTube, and Instagram
– minor edits done for clarity-
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