Kang Daniel phenomenon: Why is he receiving cheers from older women?

Produce 101 Season 2 (shortened as PD101) started on April 7th, and it happened about a month after that. I heard that a leading reporter of a current affairs magazine, a friend from a sports newspaper, and an editor of a news magazine voted for Kang Daniel. A well-known painter stated, “I fell for him instantly, just like how car accidents occur [this is slang that means you fall for someone so suddenly, like how car accidents happen unknowingly]. It’s impossible to do my daily routine because of how fast my heart is beating.” Meanwhile, an announcer updated his SNS complaining, “My wife didn’t serve us meals because she’s watching Kang Daniel,” and a daily newspaper reporter posted, “I stayed at a hotel with a friend and [we] voted for Kang Daniel.”

Professional women who once thought, “An idol is someone that kids watch, and we’re concerned that the public’s pop song market is dominated by dance songs,” even started to care about the show, which is an unusual activity for them. In the first episode, Kang Daniel appeared in an outfit with one torn sleeve and had pink hair. He also talked endlessly with a Busan accent to his fellow MMO trainees. How many people expected “that pink hair guy” would win 1st place at that time?

Firstly, I respect the program’s purpose: “We wanted to help trainees who don’t know when they will debut. We wanted to give opportunities to those who already debuted but haven’t see the light yet.” However, even after the end of PD101, the staff kept receiving criticisms and controversies such as, “They encouraged the ranking culture among trainees,” “The instigation of excessive rivalry resulted negatively on them,” and “Some trainees are permanent PD-picks.”

These days, it is difficult to enter any field, so the word “test” comes up. Even though there are areas that give security after passing the test, there are still cases where you suffer even after passing. Shouldn’t we applaud the gracious program that gives the idol trainees, who think they’ll win in life by debuting in their early 20s, probably their last chance in doing so? The selected final 11 members debuted under the name Wanna One. Among the eliminated trainees, there are those with a fandom formed and are debuting, and there are also those who are waiting to debut. Above all, it became a lesson among their peers to achieve their goal through competition.

Most of his fans are in their 30s

After the end of the program on June 16th, the ‘Kang Daniel phenomenon’ supported by older women (noonas) got even hotter. In mid-May, the bond between the fans was strengthened through various events and games formed by several Kang Daniel fansites. They even made their star (Daniel) shine by donating under his name several times. Even through YouTube, videos of Kang Daniel are continuously showing up.

Kang Daniel was born on December 10, 1996 and had not yet reached 21 years old.

Among the comments by fans, the most impressive one was, “Daniel can’t change our lives, but we can change Daniel’s. Let’s make him debut and turn him into a superstar.” The point of the noona’s power is, “If we say we’ll do, we’ll do.” Before the last performance of PD101, Kang Daniel’s fans sent in support goods, and the goods themselves were different. It was visible how they are ‘sophisticated and luxurious noonas’ with discerning eyes in selecting electronic goods such as a MacBook, iPad, and GoPro camera in addition to popular accessories and fashionable clothes, unique shoes, and a luxurious carrier. The reason why Wanna One landed advertisement deals for cosmetic products, alcohol, school uniforms, and others items usually only top stars endorse is because the advertisers said they observed the buying power of the noona fans. Their fashion magazine was sold out, and Kang Daniel’s bromides were out of stock at each cosmetic shop, showing the prediction was becoming true.

So what is the reason fans go wild over Kang Daniel? His forte that everyone can agree with is ‘appearance, dance, personality’. With his 180cm tall height and fair skin, he’s born with a cute face that will remind you of a big dog, which has no room for criticism. Broad 60cm shoulders, chocolate abs, and slender and long limbs present magical proportions. Due to his ‘low laughter barrier’, he will brightly laugh with various expressions all the time. It’s impossible to block his fashion sense that properly utilizes accessories and hats.

If you are looking for a flaw in his appearance though, you can say it’s his slightly irregular teeth. Fans who found his two front teeth as bunny-like and cute said, “They are your natural beauty + purity + sophistication + baby look + sexiness not owned by anybody else! Take care of them,” and are loudly shouting, “We’re against [you] fixing your teeth!”

Kang Daniel’s charms as mentioned by fans can be summed up into ‘gap difference’. It means, “In the real world, he is a boundlessly kind and pure man, while on stage his energy is powerful.” Plus, due to his facial expressions that change every single day, a lot of fans say it’s like their first time meeting him every day and are saying, “I still don’t know Kang Daniel’s face,” “Wow, I’ve never seen someone with an amazing gap like Daniel in my whole life ㅜㅜ A freaking sexy wolf acting like a samoyed, a man like you who possesses cuteness and sexiness at the same time~♡,” “His face is like a baby’s, but the body screams oppa,” and “He’s like a baby, and other times he is a man. He also has that girlish side in him, and while he looks like a reliable older brother, he is also overflowing with oppa feels. Anyway, there’s no exit.” As it appears the same comments keep showing, Kang Daniel’s fans are giving him high marks on his various charms.

Cute face and sexy dance

The crucial factor of Kang Daniel winning 1st place was his dancing. In other words, he discovered his talent and worked hard on it. He attended a dance school, polished his b-boying, and majored in modern dance. These skills were shown in his individual focus cam. April 24th was the first time Mnet revealed the video for the Battle Team Evaluation, and people who watched Kang Daniel’s “Sorry Sorry” video started to ‘enter the fandom’. In the 1st elimination announcement, Kang Daniel climbed up to 5th place.

After the release of Kang Daniel’s dance video, fans gave him the nickname of ‘self-employed’ since he voluntarily gathered votes, and they also acclaimed, “Even if there’s someone who doesn’t watch it at all, there is no person who will only watch it once.” Currently, as of July 13th, Kang Daniel’s “Get Ugly” video recorded 10,290,000 views, “Open Up” video 10,050,000 views, and “Sorry Sorry” video 4,460,000 views (note: all these were the views on Naver TV).

The thing that supports his excellent dancing skills is his physical condition. Many people had their lives wrecked under the spell of his beautiful dance line expressed by his long limbs. In the last concept evaluation, Kang Daniel received the highest points among all the trainees. With his hard work, he placed 1st in the 7th ranking announcement. In the final evaluation, he was announced as 1st place.

Kang Daniel’s personality makes his appearance and dancing blend together. Praises by eliminated trainees are still pouring out through interviews. Kang Daniel’s main positions are dance and rap, but throughout the competition he never rapped even once, and he never stood as the center. If you watch Kang Daniel’s competition videos, he was always standing at the back row and far out. As a sub vocal, when he sang his part, he stood in front for a short while and went back again. Using that short moment, he left a strong impression. When he finally placed 1st, his fans went wild as Kang Daniel stood as the center and showed the legendary “Nayana” dance.

Dependable, bright, and generous personality

Making a team or distributing roles in a team were all up to the trainees themselves but when the leader said, “Those who want to be the center, do volunteer,” Kang Daniel never raised his hand. Kang Daniel (whose age was around the middle among all trainees) showed his true heart by saying, “A big Busan man can’t be greedy in front of the younger members.” He didn’t show his desire to do the rap parts either. Instead, he said, “Idols need to be able to do everything,” which made the noonas worry saying, “He might be eliminated if he can’t display his talents properly, so we must support by voting.”

There are many videos of Kang Daniel comforting others trainees and even helping them. On the last day, after seeing the scene of Kang Daniel who placed 1st run down from the highest spot and hug the eliminated trainees, the words “I want to know Daniel’s mother education methods” came to many people’s mind.

While other trainees were crying so hard, Kang Daniel had never showed himself crying. To people who had preconceptions that kids these days are weak and ill-mannered, Kang Daniel showed a “dependable, bright, and generous image.” Noona fans who had never been hugged (by him) before, and only saw the encouraging inverted-triangle backside that hugged almost all the trainees, couldn’t help but fall for him.

The public is always anticipating the sudden appearance of a star at any time. In the comment section there are a lot of comments such as, “Kang Daniel is the first celebrity my mom likes after Rain,” “[He is] the celebrity I have interest in a long time after H.O.T. and G.O.D,” and “To think I’m being a fangirl at this age. I’m falling deeper.” Just like the ages of H.O.T. members, 1st generation k-pop idols in their early 30s, the current early 30s and early 40s are part of a generation that grew up screaming cheers to idols too. Noona fans who got married and lived busily, naturally send support to the star that caught their hearts. Kang Daniel’s movement is comparable to the idiom ‘NanJoongJiChu’ (囊中之錐: talent in a man, like a gimlet in a bag, will show itself). He does not particularly stand out at first, but in the eyes of the public, he is a person with looks and talents that can’t help but stand out. To see how, a PD in charge and a composer mentioned that Kang Daniel was an “earnest trainee who trained the hardest,” and it seems that it was accompanied with painstaking efforts.

Wanna One hasn’t debuted yet (at the time this article was written), but Kang Daniel is making headlines that even the smallest actions from him would be on newspapers. The finalized 1st place and center Kang Daniel is enjoying the biggest popularity and often goes up and down the real-time search keywords. Wanna One is said to go full-scale with the best debut stage in early August, and let’s hope that Kang Daniel will be a cool star that receives cheers from noona fans until the end.