This is a scene from “Radio Star”, an MBC entertainment show broadcast on January 30th. The recording for the special episode “I ain’t going home today” featured actresses Lee Yoon Ji, Jung Si Ah, Kim Ji Woo and female comedian Jung Joo Ri, etc. Actress Lee Yoon Ji confessed that after getting married, she took a greater interest in idols, one of whom was Kang Daniel, her recent favorite. When hearing this, the guests excitedly reacted. Also, the line “Kang Daniel ahhhhh” with a remarkable heart icon appeared on the subtitle. Then she said sorry to the new MC of “Radio Star” — Cha Taehyum: “Sunbae-nim, I am so sorry. Although I really love you, the position is definitely… (for my idol).” Despite gaining popularity as the main actor in the movie with 10 million views, Cha Tae Hyun also becomes beyond compare to Daniel’s fame.
There are also other celebrities showing their love for Kang Daniel. In an interview last September, when asked about her ideal type, Serri — a member of the female group Dal Shabet — professed “I cannot resist being attracted to Kang Daniel. His face looks like a puppy. Additionally, he sometimes gets the look of a generous gentleman, but sometimes is mischievously handsome. He’s exactly like a Beagle.”
Also, Jo Jung Chi and Jung In, a married couple who are musical singers participated in the variety show “Jagiya” of SBS last October. In this show, Jung In picked Wanna One Kang Daniel to be her ideal type while Jo Jung Chi just raised a titter as if he was completely used to it. In addition, the model Goo Jae-yi posted a picture taken with Kang Daniel when they accidentally met at a hair salon to her SNS account with the caption and hashtag #Accidentallymetabrightguy, #KangDanielhwaiting”. There are also many artists expressing their feelings for Daniel. At the time of “Produce 101 Season 2”, female comedian Lee Guk Ju took a screenshot of Daniel’s cute appearance and wrote on her SNS “After HOT, this is the first time I have felt like this” and “My fixed pick — oppa Kang Daniel appears and makes my heart flutter.”
Pass many celebrities to reach the top position
Broadcast for the first time in April 2017, Produce 101 Season 2 selected 11 trainees to join in the group Wanna One who made their debut last August. In season 2, the center of Wanna One — Kang Daniel — who took the throne for the top position has quickly gained the spotlight and became a superstar since debut. In the program “The list” by the cable channel TVN, Kang Daniel was chosen to be the first place among “irresistible stars” whom once you fall in love with, you cannot free yourself from his love trap. The symptom of this “disease” is “Daniel is a daily must” (Daniel must be seen once every day); otherwise, the patient will feel so panicked and anxious that he or she cannot do anything.”
It is also called “Kangdan phenomenon” (a phrase combined between Kang Daniel and the symptom of tingling feeling due to nicotine withdrawal). His charm is the difference of his beauty when he is on stage and off stage that shows Kang Daniel’s attractive traits. While he appears with an innocent face and a lovely smile off stage, he displays his charisma when performing. Together with other members, since the debut last August, Wanna One has achieved the first position in many music rakings as well as filmed advertisements for a variety of brands.
[LOOSE TRANSLATION] IU, the singer and actress attains the second position in the list of stars causing the “infectious disease”. “IU disease” makes people imitate her costume, actions, habits, etc.
[LOOSE TRANSLATION] G-Dragon — the star spreading “GD disease” — ranks the third. During his ten-year tenure since debut, G-Dragon has always been the pioneer in hair style, time, etc.
What’s surprising here is that Kang Daniel is showing his influence as great as the two above artists. In this ranking list, G-Dragon, a male singer with 12 years of experience and IU, a female artist who debuted 10 years ago are ranked lower than Kang Daniel — a rookie with only six months of debut. When things are considered, the “infectious disease” passed by Daniel is completely different from G-Dragon’s. While G-Dragon is at an unreachable position, Kang Daniel is closer to his fans. Although the symptoms of Kang Daniel’s disease only include eating jelly in the blanket or imitating the action of thigh dancing, the level of infection is so strong. With a lovely appearance, he attracts fans at all ages from 10s to 50s. In “Happy Together” broadcast on KBS featuring Wanna One as guests, Kang Daniel received congratulations from every one because he, together with the President Moon Jae In and the Youtuber Ddotty, was elected to be one of the three people who had shaken the Republic of Korea.
Starting as a 22-year-old trainee from an unknown company, Kang Daniel has become a syndrome since 23 years old. It is hard enough being celebrities, however they — as celebrities — have become “the most powerful holders” of achievements which have never been seen before. Kang Daniel is a star who proves his widespread influence in the shortest time. The outbreak of his popularity doesn’t come from his company’s support but from his fans’. The national producers have always followed Kang Daniel since he was just a trainee of Produce 101. From a position which was not very high at the beginning, he made considerable efforts and ended up getting the center position, which created a dramatic movie scene featuring Daniel as the main character with the appearance of national producers. They are not only his fans but also producers. In order for the star who they created themselves to be able to step further into a career path full of flowers, they are currently concentrating on and continually giving Kang Daniel strength.
“We can take responsibility for Daniel”
Other stars’ fandoms are transforming from “pursuing” to “empathising”. In this matter, the cultural critic Jung Deok Hyun had analyzed, “Compared to stars of a higher end, stars that create a sense of closeness and similarity for fans are usually more noticed.” When seeing stars, who perform perfectly on stage, with an appearance similar to that of ourselves in our daily lives, we seem to receive more motivation in our day-to-day activities. The movie drama of Kang Daniel’s life is no longer just reflecting his own life. And the love that fans give to him is no longer one coming from admiration, but one coming from empathy and sympathy. From a trainee who poured his sweat and tears into practicing in the basement, through outstanding efforts, to a star; his metamorphosis was live broadcasted on national television. Not only for young teenagers who nurture a dream to become famous, but also for office workers in their 20s, 30s, or people who have had rough experiences in internships or part-time jobs to be able to reach the next step of their success, Kang Daniel’s adventure reminds them of their own lives. A fan in their 30s shared, “Even though Kang Daniel cannot take responsibility for our lives, we pledge that we can take responsibility for his.”
With experience in building fandoms from the first generation idol groups like HOT or Sechskies, fans in their 30s or 40s with a much stronger financial ability than before are also always ready and willing to open their wallets for Kang Daniel. Nowadays, Kang Daniel’s brand value is increasing each day. He has strove to the first place position in terms of brand reputation throughout the second half of 2017. The boy group had collected a stunning 7.4 billion KRW from their album, 1-2 billion KRW for digital sales, and even their revenue from ticket sales, goods, advertisements, etc. has also reached 20 billion KRW. These numbers make even those in the entertainment industry have to exclaim, “To be able to collect a 30 billion KRW revenue in such a short time period of half a year is a rare sight”. Thanks to that, Kang Daniel’s management company – MMO Entertainment – was also able to spread their wings. They also officially stood their ground when confirming, “After Kang Daniel and Yoon Jisung’s activities in Wanna One cease, we will register and establish a new and independent brand in order to fully support their individual activities in the future.
For Kang Daniel, fans have painted a big picture. Not only supporting their favourite artists through financial means, fans have also organized various donation events under Kang Daniel’s name. Members of Kang Daniel’s fancafe, Daniel.com, to celebrate his birthday, had donated 8 million KRW to Good Neighbours’ clean water project in Rwanda. “Kang Daniel Gallery” also supported Save the Children through physical donations with a net cost of 47 million KRW. Charitable activities under Kang Daniel’s name were organized frequently, from helping the Korean Animal Rights Advocates to donating 9 million 999 thousand KRW to an organization aimed to support comfort women who were victims of Japanese soldiers. Alongside these projects by his fans, Kang Daniel himself had worn a “marymond” T-Shirt, a community service company that his fans also support.
In DC Inside-fanshop, where fans purchase goods under the name of their favourite artists, the support under Kang Daniel’s name is also holding the number 1 position. Profits from selling goods have been transported to the sharing house in Gwangju – Gyeonggido, where there is infrastructure and physical means to support victims of Japanese soldiers during the war. Fans doing charitable work in the name of Kang Daniel shared, “We want to empathise with people who are less privileged and are suffering by lending some of our positive energy and warm love that we have received from Kang Daniel.” A new “form” of fandom was created when the love fans have for their artists was blended in with the love and support they have for the community surrounding them.
This fandom culture is becoming stronger thanks to Kang Daniel.
This is also the reason for the meaningful title “the celebrity in the hearts of other celebrities” — Kang Daniel — and “the fans of all fans” — Kang Daniel’s fans — are receiving more attention than ever.