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[Herald Interview] Christian Burgos finds roots, opportunities in Mexico

Mexican TV personality hopes to become Korea's main emcee, Mexico's diplomat in Seoul

By Choi Ji-won

Published : June 28, 2023 - 16:17

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Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for pictures during an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on April 28. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for pictures during an interview with The Korea Herald in Seoul on April 28. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

In 2017, Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos told The Korea Herald that his dream was to one day become Mexico's ambassador to Korea.

Although not quite there yet, the 30-year-old star has stepped closer to that dream, taking on various roles beyond the small screen to connect the two countries.

Returning to The Korea Herald's building after six years, Burgos said, "I still have that dream with me, but so much has happened since. The pace and direction of my life has changed. I have much more on my hands now."

Stepping beyond labels

Burgos gained recognition in Korea as a foreigner from Mexico. However, releasing himself from that label was his first goal.

"Don't (misunderstand) me. I don't deny nor dislike being Mexican. I'm proud," he said.

"I'm Mexican, but I'm also 'Christian Burgos' -- a multi-talented person capable of hosting shows, giving laughs and empathizing with people. I wanted to show all of that to (Korea), but I couldn't if I had 'Mexican' written in bold in front of (my) name all the time."

Burgos started making a name for himself in 2017 with his appearances on various TV programs centering around foreign panels, including JTBC's hit talk show "Non Summit" and MBC's "Welcome, First Time in Korea?"

While he entered the scene through the burgeoning trend of foreign personalities, it wasn't being a foreigner on TV that made him last.

On top of his fluent Korean, Burgos gained a deep level of insight in various fields, from history to travel, renewable energy and even the legal system, in order to broaden his work as a showman.

"I once had to interview a (criminal) profiler, a realm I had never looked into before. So I had to study hard. I even learned about Korean law (and) international law. As an emcee, I think such devotion is a prerequisite."

Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for picture during a recent interview with The Korea Herald held at newspaper's headquarters in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for picture during a recent interview with The Korea Herald held at newspaper's headquarters in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Above all, Burgos emphasized the importance of staying alert and adapting to the fast-changing Korean society.

"People won't laugh at jokes from 10 years ago, and the broadcasting format has also changed a lot. In 2017, TV was the biggest media, but it's not any more," he said, adding, "If I'm not up to date with the new trends, no one will find me."

In 2018, when local TV figures started foraying into online show business, Burgos said he found his niche, ironically in his Mexican background. He launched his own YouTube channel and tried out different strategies. Some videos were well-received by his Latin American and South Korean viewers, while others weren't.

"That's the beauty of experiments," Burgos said.

Soldiering through the tides, Burgos piled up his career in the local broadcasting and online industry. While juggling several radio shows, Burgos was recently tapped as the main emcee of a new Arirang TV program launched in support of Busan's bid to host the World Expo in 2030. In May, he also returned to "Welcome, First Time in Korea?" as the host of the 300th episode.

"Looking back, I think I've done well. Although I'm still on my way to my goal, I think people have come to recognize me as Christian Burgos, a man who can do music, a man of various capacities worth more than just (my) Mexican background."

New persona in the making

Emceeing in Mexico was an opportunity that opened up many doors for Burgos.

Returning to his home country in 2022 to see his family and friends for the first time in three years, Burgos said he was invited by a celebrity friend to star on a program.

"I was on air for just five minutes, but somehow that caught (people's) attention. I was (asked to appear on) several Mexican shows, (including) a popular morning talk show as a special guest emcee."

The new opportunities in Mexico were not just an extension of his career, Burgos said, but something that brought him back to his roots.

The clash between the urge to adapt in Korea and maintain his roots as a Mexican was an ongoing struggle which worsened during the pandemic when he couldn't travel home.

"I wanted to become a Korean. That itself is not wrong, but it's not possible because I was born in Mexico. I have my own roots, but I began to neglect that. I worked hard to mingle into Korean society and thought I was doing well, until I realized that I was losing my own essence. I wasn't happy."

Burgos was awakened by his recent trip to Mexico. He absorbed everything like a sponge, filling in the holes that had been punched into his "essence." The sensation of being lost that had been lingering over him in the recent years was vanquished, he added.

Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for picture during a recent interview with The Korea Herald held at newspaper's headquarters in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald) Mexican TV personality Christian Burgos poses for picture during a recent interview with The Korea Herald held at newspaper's headquarters in Seoul. (Lee Sang-sub/The Korea Herald)

Burgos says a new persona is in the making as he ventures out on discovering new opportunities in Mexico.

"I'll be traveling between the two countries, and I'm expecting to find a new identity in Mexico. I'm not sure how it will turn out, but let's look forward to the 'new Christian.'"

Connecting the dots in his life, one day Burgos hopes to become a voice that can move Mexico in a better direction.

With his continued efforts to better represent his country, he was awarded a merit plaque from the Mexican Embassy in Korea in 2018. During his recent stay in Mexico, he was also invited to give a speech to share his experiences to the people there.

"I wanted to remind Mexicans about how much potential we have. Mexico has been independent for over 200 years, four times longer than South Korea. But look at Korea. It now plays on the global stage. ... Mexico also has many resources and we're sitting on them. I had longed to speak about this to (my country) one day and I finally had the chance at the event."

Underlying all his efforts is his compassion for people. Although he dreams big, Burgos says he will take each step with sincerity and listen to others.

"I genuinely enjoy listening to people's stories. I don't just hear, but communicate with them. It empowers and inspires me, and I believe the viewers will feel that energy as well. It's my goal to improve more in this field, and maybe, one day, I'll become the nation's first top emcee as a foreigner."