Ever since he was a trainee on Mnet’s survival program Produce 101 Season 2, Kang Daniel has shown support for different causes, which earned him “the thoughtful trainee” title. During his run on the show, he was spotted wearing various products from Marymond, a social enterprise that helps comfort women and their grandchildren. He was also spotted wearing bracelets from Heeum, another company that supports comfort women, and B.CONNECT in support of children in poverty.[s] Seeing his interest in spreading awareness and leading by example, fans of Daniel have been donating regularly ever since.
During a V LIVE on October 1, 2018, Daniel revealed he volunteered at a child care during elementary school. He commented, “When I was an elementary school student, I really loved taking care of the younger ones. You know, we have no community service requirements at that age. It is not a must to engage in community service, but I used to visit a child care center in my neighborhood to take care of younger kids on my own initiative. I wished I had a younger sibling when I was a kid. That’s why I wanted to take care of younger kids. They made me happy.”
In Daniel’s 2019 High Cut interview, he was asked about his philanthropy. He said he grew up struggling, and even then he donated to UNICEF regularly and received letters from Africa. He and his mom donated his clothes to foster care facilities by their home. “I don’t even think of it as giving. In our world today, isn’t it good to just help each other any way we can?”[s]
As part of his work with beauty brand Think Nature, Kang Daniel participated in their Think Love campaign by raising awareness with informative videos uploaded to Think Nature’s various social media accounts in December 2017. The brand seeks to create environmental consciousness with its natural products, while also providing clean water and powdered milk for impoverished children in Cambodia and Vietnam, hair donations to the Korean Association for Children with Leukemia and Cancer, and helping build schools around the world.[s]
On June 2018 after being challenged by EXO’s Chanyeol, a video of Kang Daniel participating in the Ice Bucket Challenge and donating 2 million won through Korea’s Seungil Hope Foundation was shared on the official Wanna One Instagram account. The Ice Bucket Challenge is known around the world as an online campaign to spread awareness about the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) disease. Kang Daniel’s participation immediately prompted fans all over the world to also donate and spread awareness with the hashtag #아이스버킷챌린지_강다니엘, causing the Seungil Hope Foundation’s website to crash momentarily due to the overwhelming number of visits. Jinusean’s Sean, who is a director of the Korean foundation, wrote hours later on his Instagram account to thank Daniel and his fans, “I think now I know why people always say ‘Kang Daniel, Kang Daniel!’ I will look forward to seeing you as a great singer and celebrity with good influence. I will pray for you, Daniel. Thank you.”
The Chinese ALS organization Oriental Rain ALS Care (ORACC) posted a message through their official Weibo on June 13, to thank Kang Daniel and his fans for the many donations they received. They commented, “Kang Daniel posted the 2018 Ice Bucket Challenge video and his donation certificate on Wanna One’s official Instagram, so not only Korean fans but also domestic [Chinese] fans contributed. We think this is the power of a star’s positive influence. Thank you Kang Daniel and his fans. Thank you for your help to the ALS patients. Love is on the road and will never be stopped.”[s] As of June 29, it was revealed by the Seungil Hope Foundation website that from 10,000 donations they received from May 29 to June 28 (amount exceeding 9 billion won), the reports show that over 1,000 donations were affiliated with Kang Daniel.[s] Among the many fan donations, DieuDaniel (Daum Fancafe) donated the same amount Daniel donated, a total of 2 million won.[s]
On November 13, 2018, it was revealed Kang Daniel would join beloved actor Jung Woosung for the last annual campaign of Letter From Angels, created by renowned photographer Cho Seihon. The campaign seeks to foment domestic adoptions and support single mothers by holding a photography exhibition with several known celebrities at the end of every year since 2003. For the last exhibition, however, photographer Cho Seihon only wanted to choose two models to lead the campaign, with Kang Daniel being highly recommended by acquaintance reporters as the star with the best impact. In an interview with eDaily, Cho commented, “I think they [Daniel and Jung Woosung] are the people with the most positive influence in South Korea right now.”[s] He also mentioned Daniel in his closing letter saying, “The nation’s pick, the icon of the generation, and the rising star who shines even more with his good influences, Kang Daniel joined the finale of the campaign by overcoming an almost impossible schedule.”[s] [s]
In an interview with magazine Marie Claire, Kang Daniel expressed his excitement to take part in the campaign. “I had heard a lot about photographer Cho Seihon’s campaign before, and I’m so happy to be able to participate this year. I think my fans have made me into a better person. There was a campaign I did once, and Wannables participated and worked even harder than me. I was so thankful, so I’ll work hard to become a better person. I hope that the beautiful babies I’ve met today are able to meet and be loved by new families.”[s] [soompi] On November 23, photographer Cho Seihon shared with YTNstar that baby Yongmin who modeled with Kang Daniel for the campaign was thankfully adopted.[s] Meanwhile, Daniel’s fan community DCgall followed Daniel’s good influence by donating 23.9 million won (approximately 21,113 dollars) to Korea’s Social Welfare Society in support of single mothers and raising awareness for domestic adoptions. DCgall stated, “We organized this fundraising to share the positive energy we got from Kang Daniel and to support him, as he has been constantly paying attention to the less fortunate and encouraging a donation culture.”[s]
On December 10 in celebration of his 23rd birthday (Korean age), Daniel made a meaningful donation of 12.1 million won – approximately $10,731 – to the Miral Welfare Foundation. At his request, his donation was used towards medical bills and living expenses for children with disabilities from low income families.[s] [soompi]
Kang Daniel’s first TV show guesting of 2019 was a short 10 minute appearance on tvN’s show Coffee Friends. The concept of the show is a café managed by celebrities where people can pay what they want, and all proceedings are donated afterwards. In his short visit of 1 hour, Daniel helped with different chores such as picking and peeling tangerines. However, what attracted the most attention afterwards was a few seconds scene where Daniel was caught secretly putting money in a donation box while the cast wasn’t paying attention. This moment wasn’t enlarged, as it seems even the producers of the show didn’t know of his action. Korean netizens praised Daniel selfless act of donating while also helping with chores and buying an Eco bag from the show.[s] [sbs]
On April 5, South Korea declared a national emergency in response to one of the largest wildfires on record affecting Gangwon Province. In response to the tragedy, Kang Daniel’s Korean fans started donating to Hope Bridge Disaster Relief in his name, setting another example of mature and positive fan culture. In a matter of four days, more than 4,000 fans donated in his name reaching an astonishing amount of 150 million won. On April 9, Kang Daniel responded to the fans’ donations by donating 30 million won himself.[s] This act of kindness at a time when the artist is in dispute with his agency prompted even more fans around the world to follow his good example with donations coming from countries such as Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam and United States. A staff member of this website was able to make a small donation on April 10 with the help of kangdaniel.com’s admin. Thank you once again.[s] On May 2, Hope Bridge reported the donations in Kang Daniel’s name added up to 180 million won.[s]
In early December, Kang recorded ringtone services with KT for people with hearing or speech difficulties for International Day of People with Disabilities (IDPWD). On Christmas Eve, Kang donated 30 million won in DANITY’s name to The Snail of Love, a social welfare group for the deaf and hard of hearing. KONNECT Entertainment also donated 31,000 briquettes through the briquettes bank to thank fans for helping those in need on Kang’s birthday.[soompi] Over 95 million won was donated in Daniel or DANITY’s name within a week of Daniel’s donation.[s]
On February 28, 2020, Kang made a personal donation of 50 million won to Hope Bridge Disaster Relief to be used to purchase goods such as health masks and hand sanitizers to prevent the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.[s] Daniel did not inform the agency in advance when he donated.[s] After Konnect was contacted to confirm the news, Kang made a statement through his agency, “I wanted to provide a little help to medical staff who are struggling.”[s] As of March 2, DANITYs donated 29 million won to coronavirus relief efforts.[s] As of March 7, DANITYs donated 70 million won.[s]
One of the things that make Kang Daniel such a unique idol is how genuine and outspoken he is about issues most Korean celebrities never talk about. Divorce and single parenting are still sensitive subjects in a patriarchal society like South Korea, but Daniel proudly confessed on MBC’s Radio Star he was raised by his single mother after his parents divorced when he was a child. He also shared his own experience with bullying while giving advice to a girl with low self-esteem on the KBS show Hello Counselor on September 4, 2017. He commented, “I was ostracized when I was young because of my looks. It was quite bad in elementary school, but I think you must work hard to have high self-esteem. I may be uglier than others, but now I dance better than they do. I just need to do well on stage.”
Daniel often talks with fans through V LIVE and Wanna One’s official fancafe, giving advice with simple examples that yet show the depth of his thoughts. “In honesty, I feel that Shrek is a movie that goes through important aspects of life. He gets discriminated against for being different from others, but he becomes positive and bravely saves the princess. And even the princess is a girl crush [Note: “Girl crush” is an expression used to reference women who are admired for their charisma and strength].” When asked about depression during his V LIVE, he said, “Many say they experience depression through adolescence. A lot of people say they do, but sometimes I feel depressed even though I’m all grown up. Everyone feels depressed some time in their lives. When that feeling comes, just talk to your family or friends. Rather than expecting someone to understand your feelings first, reach out to people around you and talk to them.”
Kang Daniel is arguably one of the most prominent fashion-forward idols of his current generation. He is often praised for his trendy airport fashion that emphasizes his good proportions and his penchant for accessories that give an extra touch to his everyday outfits. However, his choice of clothing and accessories sometimes bears more meaning than that of just a fashion statement.
On December 2017, Daniel made headlines after being spotted wearing “Dokdo” sneakers at Incheon Airport. The LAKAI KR sneakers from the American brand LAKAI are a special model, and part of its proceeds is meant to preserve and raise awareness for the Korean island Dokdo.[s] Daniel was also spotted wearing GREEN BLISS socks, an eco-friendly brand that advocates for nature and animal welfare alike.
Perhaps one of his most impactful accessories, however, is the safety pin he wore at 5 different events during 2018. When Daniel was spotted using a real safety pin as an earring during the Golden Disc Awards on January 10, 2018, fans worried that the unconventional accessory looked painful and uncomfortable to wear. But if Daniel was so adamant in bearing with it through hours of the televised event, it must be for an important reason. The safety pin was originally an important element of Punk Rock fashion in the ’70s as a way to celebrate individuality and rebellion. But in 2016, in response to a wave of xenophobia in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and a spike in hate crimes after the tumultuous U.S. presidential election led by the Trump campaign, some began wearing safety pins to show solidarity for marginalized groups. Fans guessed this could be the reason why Daniel was wearing the safety pin, but it wasn’t until October 7 when Daniel confirmed he was aware of the safety pin’s meaning by writing, “I don’t discriminate against you,” in response to a fancafe comment asking about the dangling safety pin earring he had been wearing for recent events.[s]
Photography by DILANIEL1996
As part of Wanna One
On November 13, 2017 during a press conference for the release of their repackaged album 1-1=0 (Nothing Without You), Wanna One announced they would be joining hands with Save the Children Fund for their fundraising campaign Christmas Jumper Day with the hashtag #2017WannaOneJumperDay, which would take place in South Korea for the first time that year.[s]
After the release of their album 0+1=1 (I Promise You) on March 2018, Wanna One partnered up with UNESCO’s Bright Girls campaign to spread awareness of the reality that 130 million girls around the world still don’t have access to basic education and are victims of discrimination, poverty, war, and human trafficking.[s] Wanna One also donated around 100,000 dollars to support UNESCO’s work in promoting and improving girls’ education. The UNESCO official website commented, “Wanna One’s message spread quickly through social media platforms via the hashtag #BrightGirlsxWannaOne and reached millions of individuals. Wanna One’s campaign video recorded over 1 million views with a high engagement, counting over 3 million likes and comments garnered in just one month. Fans learned about the importance of the girls’ education campaign through Wanna One’s messages and pledged continuous interest and support to the campaign.”[s]
On July 20, Wanna One donated 100 million won (around $88,210) to the Korea Heart Foundation, which would help around 30 patients with heart disease. Leader Yoon Jisung’s proposed the idea of “wanting to create music that shows our hearts and tugs at heartstrings.” The members all contributed ideas to their Heart Light: Turn on the “Light” of the Heart campaign. This campaign incorporated some of their choreography to gain public and fan interest. Wanna One helped raise awareness and also collected warm messages of hope for those struggling with heart disease. They stated, “This campaign began with the members’ ideas and hopes. We believe it was very meaningful, and many people gave the campaign their interest and warm affection. We hope that our donation can help those in need.” Head of the Korea Heart Foundation Jo Beomgoo stated, “We are sincerely grateful to Wanna One for not only holding a heart disease campaign but also making such a meaningful donation. We believe that the campaign’s collected warm messages will be of great help to patients, and we will use the donations to help heart disease patients with financial difficulties.”[soompi]
Following their promise to participate in philanthropic activities for every album release as a way to express their gratitude for the love and interest they have received from the public and fans, Wanna One teamed up with UNICEF’s For Every Child campaign after releasing their album 1¹¹=1 (Power of Destiny). Donating a total of 8,070 blankets (the group’s debut date was August 7) to protect children from the cold, Wanna One started a 2 week online campaign with the hashtag #WannaOneForEveryChild, encouraging fans to join them in bringing warmth to children around the world.[s]