King of Masked Singer

Fox TV concept straight from Korea

By Nadine Kam I

Come January, American audiences will get another taste of Korean entertainment.

“The Masked Singer,” hosted by Nick Cannon, will feature American celebs and an American panel of judges—Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger, Ken Jeong and Robin Thicke—but the concept is based on the South Korean-turned-international music competition series, “King of Masked Singer.”

In the original series, a number of masked individuals perform for a panel of judges who try to guess the identity of mystery singers. Because of the mask, each is judged solely on the merit of their vocal ability rather than appearance.

Although singers can come from any background, K-pop idols often appear among the competitors.

Among them was one of my biases, EXO’s Chen, who did it because he wanted to learn how he measured up on his own merit as Kim Jong-dae, rather than as EXO’s Chen, an established idol. He proved popular as “Guitar Man” in the competition.

Watch: “King of Masked Singer” Guitar Man

For fans of Korean dramas and films, Chen is often the singer of choice for theme songs.


The American “Masked Singer” will debut on Jan. 2, 2019. The costuming will be much more elaborate than the Korean show, but the Koreans never needed that much gloss. Their media is full of great programming and if this show takes off, you’re likely to see more ideas borrowed and remade for the west.

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