Heejun Han Biography
Han was born on April 20, 1989, to Jae Chun and Sun Ae Han of Anyang, Gyeonggi, South Korea. He and his family migrated to Flushing, Queens, New York ten years ago during his teen years to have a better life in America. He attended Francis Lewis High School.
Before he auditioned for American Idol, he was a non-profit organizer from Mil Al Mission in New York, a missionary school in Rockland County, New York, working with children with special needs. He has spoken of suffering from emotional depression and credited the children that he worked with for helping him to recover from his illness. He has also said that the children motivated him to audition for American Idol.
2012: American Idol
Han auditioned for the eleventh season of American Idol in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with a performance of Michael Bolton's version of the song, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You". His audition brought Jennifer Lopez to tears, and Steven Tyler stated "I think you are really great. I think you could be the American Idol". He received a golden ticket and advanced to Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.
Han performed the same song, "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You", for his first solo performance in Hollywood and was put through to the next round. He then formed a group with Phillip Phillips, Richie Law and Jairon Jackson for the Hollywood group performance, under the name, "M.I.T." ("Most International Team"). The group had issues during the preparation of their performance, as Law insisted that the performance would "do it in his own way" and refused to accept the suggestions given by the other group members. They performed "Broken Strings" by James Morrison featuring Nelly Furtado and despite the judges not being satisfied with their performance, they were put through to the next round as the judges believed they deserved a second chance. Han was put through to the next round once again after his second solo performance in Hollywood.
Han went to Las Vegas and performed "I Only Have Eyes for You" by Dick Powell and Ruby Keeler with Phillip Phillips, Neco Starr and Jairon Jackson. He was put through to the final Las Vegas round as one of the Top 42 contestants. During the final Las Vegas performance, he performed "New York State of Mind" by Billy Joel and was put through to the semi-final as one of the Top 25 contestants of the season.
During the semi-finals, he performed "Angels" by Robbie Williams and was one of the five highest male vote getters in the semi-final round to advance to the Top 13 thus becoming the first ever male contestant of East Asian descent to do so. He is the first Korean American to make the finals of American Idol. Previously Paul Kim (season 6) and John Park (season 9) had become semifinalists.
During the Top 13 week, he performed "All in Love Is Fair" by Stevie Wonder as a form of a tribute to Wonder. Prior to the actual performance on the American Idol stage, he had a mentoring session with Jimmy Iovine and Mary J. Blige. Blige commented "Well, first of all, he caught me off-guard, I wasn't expecting for Heejun to sound like he did", and added that she love his beautiful soft singing tone. His actual performance of the song received generally positive feedback from the judges, with Randy Jackson stated "It wasn't perfect, but it was really good".
During the Top 11 week, the remaining contestants had to perform songs that were released during their birth year. Han chose the song "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx which was released on 1989, the year Han was born. During the mentoring session with Iovine and will.i.am, he confessed that he always had a problem with his diction of words while he is singing and this was soon rectified by the two mentors during the session. However, his performance was not well-received by the judges. Jackson stated that it was not a great performance for him but Lopez rebutted and said that she loved the performance by the end of it though she commented about his vocal issues. Despite the judges not being really satisfied with his performance, he received enough votes from the public and was put through to the Top 10. Being one of the Top 10 contestants of the season, he will be joining the rest of the contestants from the Top 10 in a summer concert tour after the season of the competition has ended.
During the Top 10 week, he performed "My Life" by Billy Joel as a form of a tribute to Joel. During his actual performance, he went against convention in any of the American Idol performances in the history during the start of the performance. He gave a surprise to the audiences by making them believing that he had forgotten his lyrics for a slow ballad song. He went on and told the pianist "That's just much too slow for me, and I want to dance!" and started his up-tempo performance of the Joel's song. Despite his first ever attempt to sing an up-tempo song in American Idol, the performance was not well-received by the judges once again. Lopez and Jackson mentioned that his performance was entertaining, despite the vocal issues. Han landed in the Bottom 3 for that week and was declared safe after Erika Van Pelt was eliminated.