RISE UP HIGH
“Our passionate youth that we’ll have to remember, today’s Kang Daniel shines even brighter than the sun.”
Today, I met Kang Daniel for the first time.
photographed by SUNHYE SHIN
“The crashing waves”, “elevator that has no button”, “a mirage you think you’ll catch but you can’t”, “tightrope walking”, “lonely time”, “an uphill path”… those were the trainees’ answers to the question “being a trainee is?” that were shown on pages on the opening scene of <Produce 101 Season 2>. I was curious about what was the answer of the pink hair trainee Kang Daniel who simply wrote down No. 22 as his expected ranking. Kang Daniel, the newest of the new generation who had his first solo photoshoot as the first male cover model of <InSTYLE Korea> ever since 2003, paused as if to trace back his memory, “I think I wrote ‘cold rice’ ” was his answer. “Because we don’t know if [the cold rice] would be served on the dining table or not. But if you look closely, cold rice is still rice, and if you heat it up, it can always become the hot tasty rice again, that’s what I thought.”
Wanna One, and Kang Daniel, though have just made their debut, have already received passionate support from all age group and attracted an explosive popularity with the name ‘National Pick’. Surprisingly, through a short period of time, they, who have experienced a lot of change, have been active on various fields and have also received a lot of love calls from producers and advertisers as public’s top priority star. “I’m still dazed now, it feels like a dream. It feels like I’m receiving such an undeserved amount of love, I wonder if I can really receive all of this treatment. Now that I have recorded for TV shows at the TV station, I still feel amazed that the people I have seen on TV are now sitting next to me. When I watched the broadcast of <Happy Together 3> that I have guested on, I realize I kept staring at Yoo Jaesuk sunbaenim with such an amazed face. At the TV stations now a lot of celebrities look at us like that. I have to say that I’m more amazed and glad.”
His thoughts about the huge number of schedules the group have completed. Especially all the stages that Wanna One members have done together, from the long-awaited debut stage ‘Premier Show-con’, they all remain as a precious memory [to Kang Daniel]. Amidst of that, the schedules that are said to be like ‘honey’ are <It’s Dangerous Outside The Blanket> and ‘2017 KCON LA’ held in USA, Los Angeles. “ ‘2017 KCON LA’ was Wanna One’s first overseas schedule, and though I was in the position of seeing our overseas fans for the first time, I still wanted to see how Los Angeles normally looks like. I went for a walk at night on Santa Monica beach, I was really happy. I felt good at the thought of being able to walk around freely. To be honest, in Korea, we can’t set a foot outside of our dormitory. But on the next day at Los Angeles, many people seemed to recognize us.” It was the sense of freedom that he was able to feel again after a long time in a foreign country. For <It’s Dangerous Outside The Blanket>, indeed just like what the broadcast has shown, he really felt happy during the recording period. “Because I kept laughing to myself.” While talking about the appearance of a terrifyingly huge moth that wasn’t broadcasted, he added that he didn’t live as messily as it was shown on the broadcast and made everyone at the studio laugh. “No, I only made a mess at the place that was fixed to me only, I also washed the dishes diligently, it was a bit regretful.” Though he seemed to feel a bit unfair that he was portrayed like a messy kid, the fact that the real side of him which appeared on ‘Outside The Blanket’ makes him even more lovely is undeniable. Kang Daniel, who is more charismatic even without any adjustment, no, even when he’s not dolled up, is a man who has a strong ‘bare face’. He has shown himself through survival reality program, and now he has become more mature as time passes by. His original charms were conveyed well, people were extremely excited, and a new star which we haven’t seen before has been born.
Today, Kang Daniel’s mission was not to show his ‘bare face’ but to express a variety of concepts. Every time he got his make-up and hair done and changed his outfit, he always added a comment with a bright expression about his own look and styling, from ‘trot singer’ to ‘wealthy person from India’. He was a bit awkward with his own unfamiliar image, but at the same time, in front of the camera, he gave out such charisma. Maybe it was during the 5th clothes change. He looked at himself in the mirror with a blank look and said, “I feel like the Asian version of Tony Montana in the movie <Scarface>.” <Scarface> is a pre-Code gangster movie directed by Brian De Palma and is a remake version of the 1932 film of the same name directed by Howard Hawks. Al Pacino is a hot-tempered gangster who was bring to life by Tony Montana’s excellent acting. Looking at it again, the white Vivian Westwood shirt that Kang Daniel wore was similar to the white shirt that Tony Montana wore under his blue suit in the scene where he met Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) for the first time. He really has sharp eyes for learning new things and knows how to adapt to the situation quickly. “I really like movies. From blockbuster movies to artistic movies, I enjoy watching them all. But since joining ‘Produce’, I couldn’t really watch movies anymore. <Suicide Squad> seems to be the last movie I watched. I couldn’t even watch <Spiderman: Homecoming>… Ah, right. Not too long ago, I watched <Guardians of the Galaxy VOL. 2> on the plane.” The editor started to think back about an episode during ‘Produce’. During the position evaluation, in the team performing Jason Derulo’s ‘Get Ugly’, the higher rank trainees all gathered there inevitably, and the trainers said that, rather than Avengers’ level, the team was at Guardians of the Galaxy’s level. The ‘Get Ugly’ stage that they made up was an excellent performance, and Kang Daniel’s skills and charms as a human were shown. Firstly, he considered being a leader himself as being helpful to his team, which is a desirable growth of a trainee. When choosing the center, Park Woojin who was at a lower rank than Kim Samuel or Park Jihoon also raised his arm as if he was shy “me too…”, [Daniel] then held up Woojin’s arm higher and said “put your hand up properly ~ why do you have no confidence like this”, this scene also cannot be left out. It was one of the series of Kang Daniel’s consideration that was all natural and wasn’t planned at all. In the same context, one thing that people judge highly of him was that, though he has the competence to be the center, but he never showed his greed to become the center, he would also give away his position as a rapper to others. Why was he not greedy. “I watched ‘Season 1’, I know all too well how important being the center on stage is. But I also know the fact that, if I work hard, no matter where I stand, no matter what my position is, people will still recognize me.”
On the photoshoot day, news about Kang Daniel didn’t fail to come up on news portal sites’ main pages either. It was the broadcast day of <Hello Counselor Talk Show>, and there was a preview article about how Daniel told the protagonist of the story that “I was bullied during primary school because of my ugly appearance” as a word of comfort. Daniel was right in front of me and I [the editor] couldn’t understand at all, so I asked him if it was real. “Yes, it’s true. My hometown Busan, Youngdo at that time was still the countryside, there were a lot of violent and scary kids as well. I got beaten quite a lot. Back then I lost some weight, but when I got to junior high, I got taller and lost more weight. I also started dancing around that time, thanks to that I was able to gain some confidence.” The Youngdo boy’s self-raised skills and courage that was trained through heated competition started to shine more with time. He has such a special composure, some eagerness but there’s no trace of impatience that can be found on him. “I’m only scared of two things. Ghosts and bugs. But instead, I’m not afraid of the challenges on new things that people find difficult and the stress that comes with it. I’m still learning about the things that can be done as long as I work hard on it.” The surprising outcome that he has shown us until now seems to be only the start. Since now around him it’s not those violent and scary kids, but his 10 good co-workers, brothers in Wanna One that can cheer him up, instead of competition on stage and in the practice room, only fighting spirit and comfort now lies ahead.