WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Seong-Jin Cho of South Korea has won the career-paving 17th International Frederic Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, the head of the jury said Wednesday.
The second prize went to Charles Richard-Hamelin of Canada and the third prize winner was Kate Liu of the United States.
The first prize includes concerts in some of the world's best-known halls, contracts for recordings, and a 30,000-euro ($33,600) award with a gold medal.
A 21-year-old native of Seoul, Cho said he wanted to take part in the renowned competition ever since he was 11 and listened to its 2005 edition.
"It became my dream to participate in the competition and I cannot believe this moment," he told a news conference, speaking in English.
He said all stages of the competition were "really tough for me" except the final concerto with an orchestra, when he was "not so nervous."
"In the first round I was out of control," he said. "I didn't remember how I played so I checked on YouTube how I played."
Cho also won a euros 3,000 award for the best polonaise performance.
During the three weeks of the competition the pianists played only Chopin's works before a 17-member international jury that included the 1965 winner Martha Argerich.
In its 88-year history, the Chopin competition has earned a reputation as one of the world's top piano events, opening international careers to young pianists.
Past winners include Maurizio Pollini in 1960, Garrick Ohlsson in 1970, and Krystian Zimerman in 1975.