Where Winning Once means Winning Twice

The "Michelin Guide" to Competitions in South Korea and China


Winning a competition usually means winning once… but not so in a number of countries, where WFIMC members (and certain others) are recognized by governments and culture ministries. In China, the „gold standard“ is taken quite literally: winning a certain competition abroad means additional wins at home: schools as well as central and provincial governments "turn prizes into gold" and award additional money to the winners.

In Korea, winners at some WFIMC Competitions get even more than just their money worth: they are exempt from the hugely unpopular but mandatory 18 months of military service.

As for Korea, there are 28 competitions (three of them have recently left the Federation), but since 2008, the list contains only WFIMC member competitions in principle. Before, there were others, and rules were changed frequently. Today, 1st and 2nd Prize winners get the privilege of an exemption from military- which however, is not a complete exemption: reservist duty is still required. Still, 4 weeks of basic military training plus some public service (a total of 544 hours during a period of 34 months) make life much easier for young artists who otherwise are struggling to keep up with practicing and performing.

Korea: List of applicable Competitions
China: List of applicable Competitions

The first page of a long list of competitions where winners are supported by the Chinese government

In China, a First Prize from a category A competition (there are many non-WFIMC competitions as well) will receive an extra stipend from their university plus a reward from the Ministry of Culture:

Category A competition (music) :
Grand Prize 80,000CNY (approx 11,000 EUR)
First prize 60,000CNY (approx 8,000 EUR)  
Second prize 40,000CNY (approx 5,500 EUR)
Third prize 30,000CNY (approx 4,000 EUR)
Fourth prize 20,000CNY (approx 2,800 EUR)

Quoted from the Award Rules of the Ministry of Culture for the winners of the 2015-2017 International Arts Competitions (public domain).

The scope of awards is the grand prize, first, second, third and fourth prizes in Category A competitions, and the grand prize, first, second and third prizes in Category B competitions, excluding any special individual awards. Category B competition awards amount to about 70% of the above figures.

Looking at reasons for the large numbers of Asian competitors in recent years, this may very well be part of the answer. While music schools in Europe and North America certainly encourage participation in Competitions, and while winners are recognized by the schools media and sometimes receive extra performances, no similar award system exists in the west.

©WFIMC 2022