Bias alert. I’m translating this, just because… Well, he’s going back to Australia for a couple of months, so we won’t probably see him on “TV” for a while.
You were a member of the Australian taekwondo team?
I started taekwondo when I was four and I became a part of the Australia national team when I was 12. In 2008, I ranked second at the Junior Olympic Games after my victory against the Korean contestant.
Most of Korean people think that Korea will always win in taekwondo.
The fact that Korea has much more athletes makes it a favorable condition to win, if you make the comparison with other countries. That’s why we learn how to fight with our brain. My teacher always said “do taekwondo as if you play chess.” He said it’s a sport where victory is about using your brain. During a match, the teachers scream to the athlete to do this or that, but my teacher talked the other way around because the teacher of my opponent could hear him. I won many times thanks to this technique.
What are the things you still don’t understand about Korea?
Plastic surgery. When I go to Gangnam, one person out of five did plastic surgery. I didn’t know at first, but I can tell right away now. Korean women can’t have noses like this. In Australia, if you’re not good-looking, you try to wear nice clothes, you try to lose weight and dress up or you try to get a nice hairstyle, you don’t do plastic surgery.
In Korea, people think you must be pretty and good-looking to succeed and be respected. In Australia, it’s not the case. You just look at the heart? (laugh)
We don’t really care about the looks. When I was in Australia, I almost never heard that I was good-looking. The first time I heard that I was good-looking was when I came to Korea.
How was the first time you came to Korea?
Four years ago, I stayed briefly in Korea for a taekwondo competition because I was a member of the Australian team. My girlfriend at that time was Korean, so I just blindly followed her here around April last year. Since I had already been in Korea, I thought I’d be able to study Korean too and I just came here without giving too much thought about it. The day I first got to Korea, I had 50,000 won. I didn’t know where I’d sleep. Still, things turned out this way.
Most of people live planning their lives as they worry about what will happen one month, one year, 10 years later.
I live day by day. (laugh)
Is it because you live in Korea or was it your lifestyle even when you were in Australia?
I worked for a famous fashion brand in Australia. The money I earned wasn’t little, I lived in a nice appartment. I didn’t save money back then either. I feel like life was quite easy for me. I’m still young and living this way was no fun. I even thought that living the hard way was better. I can work wherever I want to, I can earn money, so is there a problem about this? I think many more opportunities will come to me. Stability or money, I had these things at my age without even thinking about them. I have plenty time for things to turn out well.
What do you mean by “things turn out well”?
Being able to earn money by doing the things I want to do. While I have my model activities, I’m also studying art and tattoos. It’s something I’m preparing. If I wanted to become a model or famous since the beginning, I wouldn’t have gotten tattoos even on my neck. Of course, I’m thankful for the attention I get through my model activities. That’s why I’m working even harder.
In “Abnormal Summit”, Enes criticized you by saying that you’re still young, so you don’t know much. (laugh)
I think age doesn’t matter. I fell for tattoos when I was 14. I thought it was so cool to get ink on your body and that would be something you’ll never erase and keep until you die. When you want to do something, it can be good, despite you being young. You can be older and do something wrong. For now, I have tattoos everywhere on my body except on my back. I think we only live once, so we must focus on the things we want to do and work hard to make them come true.
Do you like hearing the words “you’re completely Korean now”?
I think that when you go to another country, you must learn about this country’s culture at some extent and you must respect it. I like Korea, but I don’t want to become Korean. I live in Korea, so it’s only fair that I must learn and respect Korean culture. I hope Korean people would do the same if they come to Australia. People often say this: “Daniel, you’re completely Korean now.” And so I answer “I’m not Korean. I’m just a person living in Korea”. I’m not Daniel the Australian guy. I’m just Daniel. Daniel is Daniel. I can’t help who I am because we are all born different.
Original article: Arena
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.com