Seo In-gook, the winner of cable music channel Mnet's ``Superstar K,'' had his doubts as an aspiring singer, but he never thought of giving up completely.

``It's interesting. I have failed in auditions and been rejected so many times, but I never thought of changing my dream,'' the 22-year-old told The Korea Times during an interview last week in Mok-dong, northern Seoul.

The Ulsan-native was chosen as the winner of the reality program ― which resembles America's hit show ``American Idol'' ― and has been going through a hectic schedule of recordings, photo shoots, interviews and television broadcasts.

Even on the day of the interview, the singer was suffering from a bad cold and was sipping lemonade to feel better.

``The first thing on my mind these days is to get better,'' he said, adding it was a shame to have a bad cold when he wanted to be enjoying every minute.

So how does it feel to be the winner of Superstar K?

``I've been recording until five in the morning for the past few days. But I love every moment. I think I'm in a phase where I'm trying getting used to being busy. It's physically challenging, but I'm happy to be living the dream,'' he said.

The singer started dreaming of becoming a singer when he was 10, after listening to rocker Kim Jung-min.

``Children watch cartoons and movies and consider the main characters as their heroes. For me, Kim was my ultimate hero,'' he said.

Being a timid fellow, the young Seo discovered his talent by standing on stage at family gatherings and school events, and eventually started to audition at some of the biggest entertainment agencies. He is currently majoring in applied music at Daebul University.

``I failed miserably. I was devastated. I had belief in my singing, but I had to reconsider my path. When I first heard about the program, I told myself: `I'm going to be eliminated in no time, why even bother.' But then it dawned on me: I was just about to lose my chance to become a singer, something I've been dreaming about for the last 10 years,'' he said.

The fan of ``American Idol'' stars Kelly Clarkson, Clay Aiken, Ruben Studdard and David Archuleta had to admit that the toughest thing about being on the program was losing his friends, one at a time, after each episode.

``It was such a strange feeling. Competing is difficult, and as much as I was happy to make it to the next round, my heart broke to see my fellow contestants moving out, returning to reality,'' he said.

Although Seo had the looks and vocal ability to move him up to the final stage, he was frequently criticized by the judges for not being able to show them 100 percent.

``My biggest weakness is that I get nervous. I shake before standing on stage and when I finally step off the stage, I can't remember how I sang. It's been an obstacle, but I'm learning to move forward and become more professional,'' Seo said.

When asked about his strongest asset, the singer blushed for a moment before saying, ``Well, I don't know about this, but people like my voice because it's sweet and good to listen to.''

The current K-pop scene has plenty of new singers to listen to, but the young newcomer had his aims set high even before signing a contract with an agency. Seo is currently under Mnet's wing and plans to move to an agency soon.

``My role models would be Usher and the late Michael Jackson. They both are famous for their distinctive shows, but also have great vocals,'' Seo said.

``When you ask 10 people `Who is the best singer in Korea?' and more than five people say my name, that would be my dream come true,'' he added.

Any words of advice for the timid, yet talented dreamers out there?

``When your dream is to become a singer, there will come a time when you face reality. Adults think it's just a phase ― even my parents did ― but it's important to continue achieving that dream. I do hope you don't give up. Look at me, it took some time, but I'm finally on the right track and I've never been happier,'' he said with a smile.

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