Choi Sung Bong was born in Seoul and abandoned in an orphanage at the age of 3. He ran away from the institution two years later because he was ill-treated and beaten by the staff. He took a bus to Dae-Jeon and for 10 years he lived as a “street kid’ among criminals and drug addicts in the red light district, sleeping on stairwells and in public washrooms. He said that he survived by scraping a living by selling chewing gum and energy drinks on the street and in a nightclub.
On 6 June 2011, Choi\\\'s performance of Sarah Brightman\\\'s \\\"Nella Fantasia\\\" moved judges and audience members to tears. He introduced himself as a manual laborer who had made a living selling gum and energy drinks for ten years. All three judges, Kolleen Park, Jang Jin and Song Yun-ah, were impressed with his vocal talent. Choi advanced to the finals of the competition, finishing second by only 280 votes.