Q&A: K-pop star KANGDANIEL is looking for happiness

New York (AP) — KANGDANIEL is one of K-pop’s brightest stars, but at just 26, she’s already learned that there’s more to life than bright lights and fancy restaurants.

“I like pursuing happiness because in the end time isn’t eternal…we have to maximize our happiness and it’s almost imprinted in my brain,” explained the ‘Paranoia’ and ‘Nirvana’ singer. “There are times when I had to do something I didn’t want to and I didn’t have any money, and there was no result I expected. I was shocked because money didn’t bring me happiness.

KANGDANIEL, chosen by Forbes Korea as one of its top 40 celebrities for 2022, is wrapping up his first North American tour, with the last stop in Los Angeles on Saturday.

KANGDANIEL’s path to stardom began in 2017 after winning the second season of the reality TV series ‘Produce 101’ which led to the formation of the K-pop boy band Wanna One. He went solo two years later. He released his debut album, “The Story,” last year.

KANGDANIEL, who publicly battled depression and panic disorder in 2019, says the pursuit of happiness is not a fanciful desire but a way of life.

“A lot of people say, ‘Oh, without money you’re not happy.’ For me, those two things are separate,” said KANGDANIEL, who grew up listening to an eclectic mix of Green Day, Nirvana, Michael Jackson and Usher. “That’s why I pursue happiness above all else.”

In an interview, the avid ‘Star Wars’ fan talked about reaching American audiences, pursuing movie roles, and the pressures of fame.

The remarks have been edited for brevity and clarity.


AP: This is your first US tour. K-pop is so big all over the world. Does the switch to American fans matter?

KANGDANIEL: K-pop fans are all over the world but America is very special because of the Billboard chart. It has a long history and everyone in the world has already heard of it. He is very well known and to be included in the ranking would be an honor for me. And I think American audiences have good ears for good music. So if I had more fans in the US, they would give me more motivation to work harder.

AP: You are considered one of the most influential celebrities in South Korea. What does that mean to you?

KANGDANIEL: One thing I definitely felt, whether I wanted to or not, I think I have more responsibility.

South Korea is my home country and there are many stars in the country… it’s a responsibility because they recognize me as one of the celebrities. So everything I do, and all the music I make, I feel like I have to do more and be more creative.

AP: Would you ever reunite with Wanna One, even if it was just for a special project or song?

KANGDANIEL: It’s not something I can (plan) overnight. But of course I’m very open. So if there’s a good chance, I probably would. And just (a little) ago, there was an awards ceremony. We performed together as a group and I really enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun and I was able to learn a lot.

AP: You recently made your acting debut in the Disney+ series “Rookie Cops”. How was your experience as an actor?

KANGDANIEL: It was really fun… it was a little different than I expected, but then the learning process was very interesting and I enjoyed it.

I like working on a TV series, but next time, if the opportunity arises, I’d like to make a movie because I’ve always loved movies. So yeah, next time, if there’s a chance (to shoot a film), I’d love to do it.

AP: What was different about filming the TV show than you expected?

KANGDANIEL: The program! (laughs)

AP: K-pop is a global phenomenon and most of the artists are very young. How did you personally deal with fame?

KANGDANIEL: We can say that it’s true that K-pop stars are relatively young compared to other artists in different scenes and different countries…but honestly speaking, age doesn’t really define the artist. It doesn’t really make a difference because in Korea we say there is no age (limit) when learning things in education.

I don’t really like creating many social media accounts, even if I have one and I don’t look at my phone for hours… I want to communicate and get inspired by others, but not too much information, just the right amount because I want to figure it out myself, rather than comparing myself to others.


Follow Associated Press entertainment columnist Gary Gerard Hamilton at: @GaryGHamilton across all of his social media platforms.

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