In a short time since his debut, Kang Daniel gained massive popularity that created a strong impact on the South Korean general public and transcends the normal boundaries of an idol fandom. This section is dedicated to documenting the ‘KangDan Phenomenon’ (강단 현상), as labeled by the media, and its impact in South Korea.
Kang Daniel’s immense popularity prompted SBS New Late Night E News to air a special coverage about him for episode 45 of the program on November 22, 2017. The special segment, which has almost 10 minutes duration, focused on the so-called ‘Kang Daniel Syndrome’ that sweeps South Korea these days. Aside from bits of clips and quotes from Kang Daniel himself, the reportage also includes interview sessions with his former trainers from Produce 101 Season 2 as well as some media journalists and professionals to learn more about the current status of his popularity and the reasons behind it. The reportage concluded with a definition of ‘Kang Daniel Syndrome’ as a social phenomenon in which people, without being asked or questioned and without the need to explain the reasons, are in love with Kang Daniel.
As one of the most popular public figures, Kang Daniel has become a source of portrayal in popular culture. KBS Gag Concert and tvN Comedy Big League, both sketch-comedy television shows, have frequently mentioned him or featured his portrayal (prominently from his early Produce 101 Season 2 style with his iconic pink hair) on their sketches. Another popular sketch-comedy show, tvN Saturday Night Live Korea Season 9, even went a step further and created a sketch titled “Kang Daniel Disease” dedicated entirely to him for episode 26 of the season, which aired on September 23, 2017. But his characterization on television is not limited to sketch-comedy shows, as a kids-oriented cartoon show on MBC titled Ppogeul-ah Saranghae (뽀글아사랑해) also includes a character based on him in two of its episodes.
Outside of television, his popularity is also reflected in music with several indie artists creating songs with Kang Daniel as their muse. The most well-known ones are “Shoo” by The Barberettes and “My Love” by Merry Apple. The latter became the top searched song on South Korea’s most popular online music store, Melon, upon its release.
During episode 137 of tvN variety talk show Problematic Men that aired on November 5, 2017, Kang Daniel was included as one of the top 3 ‘People Who Move South Korea in 2017’. It is indeed an acknowledgement of the impact he has created in South Korea and towards its people in 2017. But what is even more amazing is the show puts him second only to the current president of the country, Moon Jae In. A similar acknowledgement was also given to him by the readers of CéCi magazine. In an year-end poll asking readers who were 2017’s most important people, Kang Daniel earned the second place with 32% of votes, with the president once again taking the first place. This clearly speaks volumes, as his public recognition is essentially considered near the same level as a central figure in politics who holds a great influence over the lives of people in many aspects.
Naver is the most popular search engine in South Korea, and being a trending topic on this search engine in a way reflects the interest of the general public. Naver provides the feature to check the current top 20 trending topics on the platform as well as weekly ranks of the most searched topics. Kang Daniel has constantly entered the top 20 trending topics on Naver for different categories and has periodically ranked as the number one most searched topic. From the first week of June 2017 until the last week of February 2018, he was on the top list of Naver’s weekly ranked topics for 33 weeks, including 21 consecutive weeks on the list.
Each week, two ranks containing top 10 TV topics which generate the most “buzz” for the particular week from netizens, one for drama and another for non-drama, are released by Good Data Corporation (굿데이터코퍼레이션). After his appearance on Produce 101 Season 2, Kang Daniel first entered the weekly top 10 non-drama TV topic list on the fourth week of April 2017, where he ranked #2. Since then until the last week of December 2018, he has featured in the list 44+ times for various TV shows where he makes appearances, including 12 times as rank #1 on the list.
|December||4||JTBC Idol Room (아이돌룸)||4|
|November||5||JTBC Knowing Bros (아는 형님)||1|
|November||3||KBS2 Happy Together (해피투게더)||1|
|November||2||tvN Weekend Playlist (주말 사용 설명서)||1|
|July||1||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||4|
|May||5||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||4|
|May||4||JTBC Please Take Care of My Refrigerator (냉장고를 부탁해)||3|
|May||2||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||4|
|May||2||Mnet Wanna One GO: X-CON||8|
|May||1||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||3|
|April||3||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||6|
|April||2||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||8|
|April||1||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해)||1|
|April||1||JTBC Knowing Bros (아는 형님)||9|
|March||4||MBC Radio Star (라디오스타)||1|
|March||1||MBC King of Mask Singer (미스터리 음악 쇼 복면가왕)||5|
|January||3||KBS2 Happy Together (해피투게더)||6|
|January||2||KBS2 Happy Together (해피투게더)||4|
|December||2||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||8|
|December||1||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||8|
|November||5||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||2|
|November||4||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||4|
|November||3||Mnet Wanna One GO: ZERO BASE||2|
|November||3||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||4|
|November||2||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||2|
|November||1||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||2|
|November||1||SBS Running Man (런닝맨)||5|
|October||4||SBS Running Man (런닝맨)||1|
|October||2||SBS Master Key (마스터키)||1|
|September||2||MBC Oppa Thinking (오빠생각)||5|
|September||1||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해 파일럿)||1|
|August||5||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해 파일럿)||6|
|August||4||MBC It’s Dangerous Beyond the Blankets (이불 밖은 위험해 파일럿)||2|
|August||3||JTBC Let’s Eat Dinner Together (한끼줍쇼)||2|
|August||1||KBS2 Happy Together (해피투게더)||2|
|June||2||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||1|
|June||1||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||1|
|May||5||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||1|
|May||4||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||1|
|May||3||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||2|
|May||2||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||2|
|May||1||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||2|
|April||4||Mnet Produce 101 Season 2 (프로듀스 101 시즌2)||2|
Ever since his debut, Kang Daniel has frequently been featured on the cover of various magazines. Due to his huge popularity and impact on the public, he has been featured in fashion, lifestyle, and socioeconomic magazines alike, with one milestone being the very first male celebrity to grace the cover of InStyle Korea magazine in 14 years.[s]
Despite his entertainment-oriented career, Kang Daniel has been featured several times in non-entertainment magazines. The most prominent one is Weekly Chosun, a current events magazine known for covering some of the most vital societal and political issues around the world. The magazine was first published on October 20, 1968 by The Chosun Ilbo group, which started its publication business in 1920. Edition #2470 of the magazine, issued for the second week of August 2017, has Kang Daniel on its cover alongside an in-depth feature analyzing his unprecedented popularity among women in their 30s and 40s. This is quite uncommon, as Weekly Chosun normally only puts important political figures, athletes, or CEOs of big enterprises on its covers. During a television interview, an editorial staff member of the magazine revealed that the respective edition is the most sold edition during the time she has worked for the magazine.
A public poll for the 2017 Magazine Cover of The Year conducted by Kyobo, the largest bookstore chain in South Korea, had 3 out of the 8 nominees featuring Kang Daniel solely as the cover. The three respective covers are Weekly Chosun edition #2470, Weekly Donga edition #1110, and InStyle October 2017 edition. In addition, two other nominees were also related to Kang Daniel, as they featured Wanna One on their covers. These two are 1st Look July 2017 edition and GQ Korea November 2017 edition. In this sense, it could be summarized that his presence in publication media is undoubtedly significant that it dominated the poll.
Gallup Korea, a specialized research company with over 40 years of experience, always conducts an annual poll to gauge the public perception of idols’ popularity and determine the general public’s most favorite idols for the respective year. In 2017, the company surveyed 1,500 men and women aged 13 – 29 over three polling periods in July, September, and November. Despite being a rookie idol who had debuted for only 5 months, Kang Daniel managed to earn second place overall on the poll. He also ranked high on all demographic breakdowns of the poll, earning fifth place for both male 13-18 and 19-29 age groups, and second place for both female 13-18 and 19-29 age groups, once again cementing his appeal to various gender and age groups.[s]
The Korean edition of one of the most impactful business magazines in the world – Forbes – included Kang Daniel in its list of Forbes 2030 Power Leaders for 2018’s rising industry leaders in their 20s and 30s. The list, which celebrated its sixth anniversary in 2018, comprises of 5 names each from 6 different fields (Art and Classic, Fashion and Beauty, IT and Tech, Bio and Healthcare, Finance and Venture Capital, and Entertainment) that have a great impact on Korean society. Over 196 candidates were considered for 2018’s list, and the selection involved the participation of 38 professional judges. Kang Daniel was included as one of the 5 names in the Entertainment field. Regarding Kang Daniel’s inclusion in this list, film critic Hwang Namhoong commented that Kang Daniel is indeed marketable and has written a new history in idol industry. He also noted a balance of innate skills and effort to improve his singing as the reason behind Kang Daniel’s popularity, aside from other factors such as his cute face, good physique, and rapping skill.[s]
|YEAR||MONTH||PIECES OF DATA||RANK||POSITIVE RATE||LINKS|
In addition to that, on the Male Advertisement Model Brand Reputation Ranking, also conducted by the same institute, Kang Daniel consistently maintained a high ranking from September 2017 till now. Unlike the first one, this second ranking is not limited to the analysis of male idols only, but also includes other male public figures such as actors, comedians, and presenters. This ranking shows that aside from his strong brand reputation among idols, Kang Daniel also has a strong position among other public figures.
From September 2018, Daniel started to be included in the Korean Celebrity Brand Reputation Ranking. This new ranking includes variety show stars, drama and movie stars, singers, idol groups, comedians and athletes. On the first report of this ranking, Daniel was the highest ranked idol in the list to be included separate from his group. From December 2018, he was included in the Individual Idol Brand Reputation Ranking.
|YEAR||MONTH||PIECES OF DATA||RANK||POSITIVE RATE||LINKS|
As a testament to his strong brand power, Kang Daniel constantly shows a ‘Midas touch’ effect on various commercial products associated with him, be it the jelly product he eats, the clothes he wears, or the plushie cushion he hugs. Those items suddenly become hot trending items, and many even become sold out in a relatively short period. The most prominent examples of this endorsement effect are visible from the brands that chose him to spearhead their brand campaigns, as detailed below.
The first brand is Think Nature, a brand of body and hair care lines that decided to have Kang Daniel as its brand ambassador on September 2017. Ever since he became the new face for the brand, the online sales of its products have surged to a staggering 728% increase. The new marketing strategy also helped raise the public awareness of the brand existence itself both domestically and internationally, which allowed Think Nature to initiate its market expansion plan to China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
The second brand is The Spring Home, a company specialized in plushie-themed home bedding products, whose bear body pillow product sold out after Kang Daniel was spotted hugging one on Wanna One’s reality show. This prompted The Spring Home to choose Kang Daniel as an exclusive model for its brand, a decision that later proved to be a great marketing strategy, as The Spring Home managed to earn 20 million won in just 10 minutes after its limited edition “Kang Daniel bear” plushie sold out during a special event on December 15, 2017.
The third one is fashion brand LAP Korea. At an airport appearance, Kang Daniel wore one of its coat products. As a result, the coat became a sensation and sold out immediately, prompting a 7 time inventory restock. Nearing the end of 2017, LAP Korea also decided to choose Kang Daniel as the face of its brand. In January 2018, it started to launch a series of limited edition designs, specifically customized to Kang Daniel’s personal aspects like his birth year or his jelly eating habit, resulting in an overwhelming response. On February 1, 2018, a special online pre-order event for three items from the Kang Daniel collection (pink air jumper, backpack, and hoodie jacket) resulted in a staggering number of 17 million visits in the first 24 hours, causing a server crash. Less than 30 hours later, all items from this collection were already sold out.