[September 2014 – Allure] Normal Guys – Interview with Robin, Tyler, Daniel & Zhang Yuan

Allure - Abnormal Summit

Honestly, I didn’t enjoy the format of this interview because there was a lot of fanboying/fangirling going on in the comments written by the writer, so I’ll mainly translate the answers.

Robin Deiana | France

“I watched variety programs such as “Love Letter” and “XMan” because I had many Korean friends. I thought Korean people were funny people because I watched a lot of variety programs. When I actually came to Korea, I realized they were blunt/cold. Especially ajummas and ajussis!”

Robin has been in Korea for three years. His first impression of Seoul was that there were many restaurants. It’s an unusual sight in Paris. “I think Korean people spend a lot in shopping or going to the restaurant. Most of couples in France usually eat at home because they live together. Eating together outside makes you grow fond of the other very easily.” What Robin thinks of the Korean dating style. “It’s quite a sad story. I have no money, so it’s been a while since I had a girlfriend.”

[the editor gives a long description of how Robin is good-looking on TV but he’s even better-looking in real life because he’s so tall, has broad shoulders etc etc…] How come he doesn’t have a girlfriend willing to buy him dinner? “Still, when a man is with a girl he likes, he wants to spend his own money. Going Dutch? It’s good between friends. However, I want to buy everything for my
girlfriend, so I gave up on dating because I can’t afford it.”

When he went to Korean clubs, something surprised Robin. “I was quite shocked when I saw what booking was. They grab women’s wrist, drag them here and there. It’s something you can’t even imagine in France. I guess the woman wouldn’t have followed you at first anyway…”
Two clichés about French men: they’re kind-hearted and like to argue. Forever smiling Robin falls into the first category. “When I fist came to Korea, I found out what people thought about French people. I like joking around, but I also have this soft, gentle French guy side… To be honest, both of my parents are Italians.”

Tyler Rasch | USA

Calling himself a bookworm, Tyler is different from the vision Korean people usually have of Americans and he’s quite aware of that. “Most of US people living in Korea are soldiers or English teachers. And it’s true they represent a special part of American society.”

According to him, it’s a misunderstanding to think that all American have no interest into learning foreign languages. “In France, people call “Americans” the ones who cannot speak more than one language. However, the United States are a land of immigration. More than 40% of families speak two languages at home. I even speak Korean with my friends.”

With other exchange students in Seoul, Tyler is currently publishing an international college magazine called “Seoulism”. “Korean teachers constantly throw remarks. Sometimes my friends who are exchange students from Malaysia and China wonder if it’s not discrimination. When we share our experiences, we get to understand it’s not discrimination but something particular to Korean people.”

During broadcast, Tyler said he likes the boy-girl group meetings Koreans do just like they do in the movie “Grease”. “It’s because of the jacket! Back in the 60’s, when a football player who was in high school dated a girl, he’d put his jacket around his girlfriend’s shoulders.” It’s been three years since he’s come to Korea and he knows Seoul geography. How does he date? “You can date for a cheap price in Korea. However, I think people choose to spend money by eating in a good restaurant or going on a trip because you must plan things very well [if you don’t want to spend too much money].”

Althought Tyler was ready to deal with any problem, there’s one wall about Korean culture he still feels. “At the end of the day, a barriere is drawn when I’m called “white guy”. “Tyler, you’re American”. When I hear such words, I feel like they wouldn’t be said if I were Korean-American, even if I was even less fluent in Korean.” Hiding his face behind his hands, he went on “what do you think? Won’t you think a bit differently if you don’t see my face?”.

Daniel Snoeks | Australia

Daniel came to Korea a year and a half ago because he followed his girlfriend. “We met in Australia. Busan was her hometown, so I worked part-time at a café over there. Now? We broke up.”

Coming from a small neighborhood in the suburbs of Melbourne, he wanted to live in another country. He had never thought he’d become a model or be on TV. “I can’t foresee the future. If I had to, I don’t know if I’d have gotten tattoos even on my hands.” From his neck to his hands, his tattoos are his trademark. “I think Korea gives a lot of meaning to tattoos. I don’t know if it’s because Australians have prejudices or if they don’t see anything special about it.”

In “Abnormal Summit”, Enes is probably the one Daniel disagrees with the most. Daniel thinks he got recruited because of his free spirit. “Australia is like England now. It’s a multicultural country with people with different nationalities, we are open-minded. I think the thing the most special about Australian people is the mutual respect they show to each other.”

Daniel knows his way around Seoul now, but the Busan saturi he heard when he first got to Korea is still amusing to him. “It’s so funny when the hyungs go “so dope!”, “so fresh”.

With such an open mind, what is hard for Daniel to figure out about Korea? “Plastic surgery. Considering all the tattoos that I have, you may wonder why I would say that. However, tattoos and plastic surgery are two different things. Behind a tattoo, my face and my body are still similar to my parents’. But when you do plastic surgery, you don’t look like your family, you look like the ones who also got plastic surgery.”

Although he dated a Korean woman, Daniel struggles to understand the vision of love in Korean songs and dramas. “In Australia, love or dating are really not a big deal. It’s nice to be in a serious relationship, but when it’s too excessive, it’s a bit…”

Daniel left his parents’ home when he was 15. “In Australia, my face, my personality are pretty average. That’s why I’m thankful for being able to work like this in Korea and for finding so many people to help me out. Hopefully, I will be able to keep working here. I really like my life right now.”

Zhang Yuan | China

He was an announcer in China before he came to Korea and loves everything about this country. “I’m living in Sillim-dong now, but I lived in the private academies area next to Yonsei University at first. I feel more comfortable in Korea than in China. I think my personality matches Koreans’ much better. The Korean word I love the most is “affection”.” He says he wants to show Korean culture to other Chinese people. “I want to tell them not to just do some shopping in Myeong-dong. I want to tell them to visit Jeonju and Andong. I really like Jeolla-do. You can really feel Korean culture. I tried the talchum dance and I tried to play the samulnori. It was so much fun.”

Except on weekends, he teaches Chinese every day. Did the number of his students increase after he appeared on the show? “I teach up to three hours a day in the morning. In the afternoon, I do radio shows or voice dubbing. I get up at 6 in the morning and usually go home at 11 at night these days. I have to film “Abnormal Summit” on Sundays, so I have no day off.”

So he’s a busy man. Does he save a lot? “Because Chinese people take very serious honor in everything, when I meet my friends, I’m the one paying. It’s quite a worry for me.”

Considering the cold relationship between China and Japan, Zhang Yuan and Takuya (the Japanese member of “Abnormal Summit) gave catharsis to “us” who share similar history. “Takuya isn’t a good drinker. Yet, that day of recording, we drank a lot together. It was the opportunity for us to get closer.”

The show isn’t only about cultural differences. They also talk about politics, economic, society in a way that can sometimes affect the viewers. “Some people will be uncomfortable because of my comments on history. I read the comments too. However, there can be various reactions. I think this is what “normality” is about.”

He wants to say what he has to say because being a man is about saying what’s on your mind. “I’m thinking about serious topics we could talk about and exchange our ideas in a stronger way than we do today. I hope this will help to make disappear prejudices between Korea and China, even if it’s just a little. That’s why I always speak in an earnest way.”

“I like charming women like Lee Young Ja. If you really want to go to the end with someone, you must only look at her heart. And you need time to figure out her heart. That’s why I don’t date these days.” He keeps praising Korean women for being caring and gentle. “There’s a Chinese saying that says “the happy man doesn’t know his own happiness”. That’s definitely how Korean men are.”

Original article: Allure
Translation: @onesunnylady – thesunnytown.com

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2 Comments

  1. Ah Yuan…il peut légèrement m’agacer parfois mais ses manières sont mimi. Je l’aimais bien au début mais son caractère m’a fait changer d’avis XD Et Tyler dramatise un peu là…il y aura toujours une barrière (culturelle, personnelle, etc), qu’il le veuille ou non, qu’il soit en Corée ou ailleurs. C’est son ouverture d’esprit que j’apprécie le plus dans l’émission. Quant à Daniel, il est du genre à suivre son coeur et à affronter l’avenir sans trop tergiverser, c’est plutôt une qualité je pense, vu qu’il est débrouillard et pas difficile.
    Merci pour la trad’! Robin est d’origine italienne….c’est pour ça qu’il pouvait rien dire contre Alberto sur les meilleurs vins haha

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