South Korean pianist Cho Seong-Jin won Poland's prestigious Chopin competition on Tuesday, a prize that opens the doors to some of the world's top concert halls.
Cho, 21, beat 77 other young pianists from 20 countries to take home the gold medal and 30,000-euro ($33,500) prize at the event, held every five years in the Polish capital Warsaw and named after the 19th century pianist and composer.
"First of all I couldn't believe it," said Seoul-born Cho, who studies at the Paris Conservatoire, after winning. "Of course being famous is good but I just want to make good music."
Second prize went to 26-year-old Canadian Charles Richard-Hamelin, and third place was awarded to Chinese-American Kate Liu, from a group of 10 finalists.
This year's Chopin competition notably featured 14 contestants from Poland, 13 from China, 12 from Japan and eight from South Korea.
The contest began in 1927. Winning is seen as a ticket to playing the greatest venues in the world and has helped to launch the careers of pianists such as Maurizio Pollini (1960) and Martha Argerich (1965).
The juried performances are open to the public and always sell out.
Born in 1810 in Zelazowa Wola, near the Polish capital, Frederic Chopin fled his homeland just before the 1830 uprising against the occupying forces of Tsarist Russia.
The composer later lived in the Austrian capital Vienna before moving to Paris, where he died aged 39 after years of poor health.
Described by 19th century German composer Robert Schumann as "cannons hidden among blossoms", Chopin's music remains a symbol of Poland's long struggle for freedom.