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They’re very different from each other. They each have different looks, a different job and are from a different country. Aside from “Korea” being their destination, they had nothing in common. Now what they have in common is the fact that they’re both foreign models here and gathered in one place. Daniel Snoeks, Danny Arens, Joel Roberts.
Daniel, who was a taekwondo athlete, Danny who enjoys travelling around the world, Joel who was a tennis table player. The three of them ended up coming to Korea through a random occasion and each one of them had his own reason and pretext to stay. Now, Daniel is walkin down the path of a tattoo artist, Danny is walking down the path of a musician as a band lead singer, Joel is walking down the path of a gagman because he enjoys making people laugh. And they’re also models. These multifaceted men are getting closer to Korea in their own way.
bnt met with them and the photo shooting was completed fast with their modeling skills. In the interview, they talked about their connection, what they felt through their life in Korea and their future aspirations.
Please introduce yourself.
Joel: I’m Joel and I’m from the United States. I’m 26 years-old and I’m from Washington D.C.
Danny: I’m Danny Arens, born in 1983. I sing in a rock’n’roll band. I did some music, acting and modelling activities in the past 8 years I’ve been living in Korea.
Daniel: I’m 23-year-old tattoo artist Daniel and I’m from Australia. I’ve been in Korea for three years.
How was this photo shoot?
Joel: Today’s photo shoot was a lot of fun! I think we portrayed the concept well.
Danny: I liked it overall. It was nice to receive this photo shoot offer and everything was nice from the hair style to the makeup style. We got to express our own personality and I’m happy because I feel that we got to show also our teamwork or something like friendship.
Daniel: I think it was even better because I already knew the photographer. It’s always comfortable and fun when I do a photo shoot with people I’m comfortable with, and it makes the pictures come out better. And it was also nice because I was with my friends Joel and Danny. It might be because the outfit style was one I hadn’t tried before, but it was even more charismatic and more interesting.
How did you get to know each other?
Daniel: I was already friend with Danny. I met him the first time when Used Cassettes performed at the opening party of a shop I worked at in Shinsa-dong. And before that I had done some modelling activities with a member of Danny’s band and we have a lot of acquaintances in common and we even lived in the same neighborhood, so that’s how we became close. I met Joel two years ago when we filmed “Quizz That Change The World”. After that, we didn’t see each other, and the three of us got a modelling offer from YG K Plus and we ended up seeing each other again.
How did you get this modelling offer?
Daniel: I did modelling activities for two years with an agency called “Shinhwasa” and my contract expired. I was planning to go back to Australia, but thanks to my agency CEO, I got to meet YG K Plus CEO and and he asked me if I wanted to be a model for them, so I decided to stay in Korea and to keep doing modelling activities. After that, I opened my own tattooshop, so I’m handling both my modelling career and my tattooshop.
Danny: I was a musician first and I’m in a different agency. It’s the agency called “Magic Strawberry Sound” housing 10cm whom a lot of people know. And I was doing both music and modelling activities. Someone I know knows YG K Plus and introduced me and that’s how I joined their agency.
Joel: I coincidentally saw YG K Plus CEO in a restaurant two years ago. He gave me its contact info and told me to come and play at their office. I wasn’t confident back then, so I didn’t go and I did nothing more but contact him once in a while. Then, I sent a text message saying I wanted to meet him. It turns out that he had contacted Daniel the day before.
Daniel: It was a meeting with good timing. He said signing with them would probably create a good synergy because the three of us also worked in the Korean entertainment, aside from modelling, so we all joined the agency together.
So you had prior modelling experience.
Daniel: I was in the “Shinhwasa” agency for two years.
Danny: I did some activities through my record label and I also did some on my own. I also did many collaborations with fashion designers. That’s why I was really happy to join YG K Plus whose influence is getting deeper on the scene.
Joel: I signed with an agency 4 years ago and I’ve been constantly modelling ever since.
Did you join YG K Plus because you wanted to do nothing but modelling or because you wanted to work together in a different field?
Joel: I said I’d like to do music or acting later on, but I joined the agency because I wanted to focus on modelling for now.
Danny: For me, it was because I wanted to do acting or modelling activities. Some models in YG K Plus are also actors. I’ve shot 3 movies this year. To be honest, when I introduce myself, I don’t really talk about being a model. I realized that people come to find me because of my personality or because of my age when they’re looking for a character a bit more specific like “the musician who is also a model”, “the actor who is also a model”. I think this is a good fit for me, so I want to try do various activities with YG K Plus.
Daniel: I want to try any job coming my way through YG K Plus, but doing just modelling for now? To be honest, I never actually thought about being a model in Korea. I became friends with models while working and they recommended me. That’s how I ended up meeting the CEO of my previous agency and I started working as a model. It was a coincidence that I got to work in various areas like TV. From my point of view, the fact itself that I was able to do stuff like this gets me emotional. Before, I was only someone who did tattoos. In Korea, people made me a model, made me a TV entertainer. I’m really thankful for this. I truly had no expactation about being able to do things like this, so this makes me even more emotional.
Daniel, being in “Abnormal Summit” made you known.
Daniel: Through “Abnormal Summit”, many people got to know me, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for. I didn’t want to be famous as “the foreigner who can speak Korean” just because I was good at speaking Korean. I’m a tattoo artist, so I really hoped I would be recognized a little bit more for my art, my design or my drawings. I think that’s why I focused only on modelling and tattoo work afterwards. Of course, being on TV gave me a bit more opportunities and I’m always thankful.
Which Korean tattoo artists are you close with?
Daniel: I have nothing bad going on with other tattoo artists. However, no matter how you look at it, I’m more known as someone you see on TV. That’s the reason I must work harder than other tattoo artists. I think other tattoo artists can think “he’ll have a lot of clients because he’s a celebrity”, “he earns a lot of money” when they see me and I don’t want to make it this way. I hope people will look only at my drawings without knowing me and they will go “wow, that is so cool!”. That’s why I’m working even harder.
Danny, I heard you do both music and acting. Is there one field you focus on the most?
Please tell us a little bit more about your band Used Cassettes.
Danny: Used Cassettes is the oldest foreign band active in Korea. It’s been 7 years now. 2 members are from Canada, one is from South Africa, I’m the only one from the US. We all met in Korea and we created the band. We’ve released 5 albums so far. We performed in countless festivals, fashion openings, Hongdae concerts during these 7 years. Two years and a half ago, we signed with Magic Strawberry Sound. Before we did, the band set up its own record label called Loose Union. There were 4 Korean bands, 4 foreign bands. We produced videos together, we created albums and we also had a website. It’s still on. It helps to connect the Korean music scene and the foreign music scene.
Are you close with some Magic Strawberry Sound artists?
Danny: Sunwoo Jungah is the one I’m the closest with. We were signed because she recommended our band. We also released a single together last summer. I like the duo Oksangdalbit.
Do you have current collaborations with other musicians going on?
Danny: I wanted to work with R&B singers to mix the genres. My band recently shot a music video with Elo from AOMG. I want to keep trying to do fun projects like this.
Joel, you shot a lot of variety or comedy programs.
Joel: I was in “SNL Korea” and “Comedy Big League”. I was also in some talk shows and music videos. “Comedy Big League” is the one I had fun with the most. That’s why when I get the opportunity to be on the show, every time I’m on my way to the set, I always tell the staff and the main writer that I want to be a permanent member of the cast. (laughs)
I heard you also have the “Joel Show”.
Joel: it’s a show I do on my personal Youtube channel. I shot season 1 and I will start working on season 2 starting from next week.
Do you have other goals in the gagman field aside from your “Joel Show”?
Joel: I want to try acting and be in movies or dramas. Shooting “Comedy Big League” makes me feel something and I think that I want to try theatre too.
Did you have acting opportunities?
Joel: The director of the movie “Life-Staking Love” with Ha Ji Won, Bolin Chen and Chun Jung Myung contacted me and I ended up being in the movie. It’s just one scene, so I think I will only have 15 seconds of screen time. (laughs)
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What’s your goal as a role model?
Danny: I want to do a lot of interesting activities like we did today. I want to try many styles and outfits I couldn’t even think of. I think modelling is a bit similar to acting, so I definitely want to try to portray different styles. I also want to do a lot of music collaborations. I hope I’ll be able to do stuff allowing me to be in places where fashion and music are combined. It could be producing an EP for a fashion show, producing songs to match a lookbook. I hope to do stuff like this.
Daniel: I’ve met a lot of good peole as I did photo shoots like this. I want to do a lot of activities and keep meeting various people. I think I will be happy if we help out each other. Besides, I did the launching of a brand with a designer. Now, I’m taking a break and planning my next move. Being on a set makes me learn a lot more and get more experience, so I want to try to create clothes if I get the opportunity to.
Joel: One of my goals as a model was to sign a contract with YG K Plus. Because it’s the best modelling agency in Korea. Now that this came true, I think I should work hard to make it now. If things go a little bit better, I want to try to do some design stuff. My goal for now is to be on bigger and influencial fashion shows.
Pros and cons about living in Korea for a long time?
Daniel: At first, I couldn’t adapt to the “ppalli ppalli” mindset. For instance, I live in Itaewon. A store would open on Kyungridan Road, and there would be a complete new store six months later. Being able to build a building in a just a few weeks is awesome. (laughs) I got a bit awkward with the attention I got because a lot of people recognized me after I appeared a few times on TV. Even when I was in Australia, I was born and lived far from the city. I know no one outside of the people living in my neighborhood. My lifestyle was a quiet one as I lived close with people I knew. So finding myself in this situation made me very shy. I’m a little bit more comfortable with it now, but I still don’t get why people are interested in someone like me. (laughs) This might be why I felt awkward. Now I opened my tattooshop and I was able to do a lot of collaborations as an artist. I work with YG K Plus and I’m able to be with Joel and Danny. (laugh) When I think about things like this, I really feel good. Except for tattoos, these are things I would have never gotten to do in Australia. I really like Korea because it gave me opportunities like this.
How did you end up coming to Korea?
Daniel: I was a taekwondo athlete when I was a child. After visiting Korea in 2010 with the Australian national team for a competition, I spent 6 months at the Korea National Sports University. Then, I went back to Korea, but I ended up quitting sports because of an injury after a match. After that, I ended up visiting Korea again because the friends I had made the first time around remembered me. I didn’t think about staying, but somehow I got modelling offers. I got some opportunities through an agency and I ended up signing a contract. I got a visa. I ended up staying because I got opportunities to do things more and more, so me staying here became more comfortable.
Danny: I heard 63building is the highest building in Korea. I thought I had to to see it for myself, so I came here.
Danny: I’m joking. (laughs) I traveled a lot during my 20’s. I visited about 30 countries, and I always thought it’d be better for me to live in another country than in the US. I came to Korea in 2008 for the first time, and I thought it seemed to be a dynamic country. Korea changed a lot since then. The fashion, film, music industries grew bigger and I think now there are world-class labels. It wasn’t like that ten years ago. I ended up living in Korea because I thought that I wanted to participate to this change.
Aren’t there things making you uncomfortable?
Danny: I’m comfortable in general. There aren’t many hard stuff. Of course, there’s a downside, but there are so many great things that I focus on the great things. I think there are also many good things because I’m a foreigner.
Which aspects do you think of in a positive way?
Danny: When you have a close relationship with Korean people, they make you feel like you’re a part of their family. It’s something really great about Korean people.
Joel: I’ve been a table tennis player since I was 7. I came to Korea to compete in the Korea Open competition in 2011. I went back to the United States about three months later. I had so much fun in the three months I spent in Korea and I made many good friends that it stayed on my mind. To be honest, I had always wanted to live in Asia because of table tennis. That’s why I also went to China and Japan, but Korea was the country I liked the most. That’s why I told myself that I definitely wanted to live in Korea, so I came back.
Which table tennis player do you like?
Joel: My favorite player is Ryu Seung Min. I’ve liked him ever since I was a child. I watched TV when Seung Min-hyung won the Olympic gold medal in 2004. It was so awesome. I remember playing table tennis every day in our home basement. During the Korean Open, my coach introduced me to him and we became friends. We still see each other often.
Did you play table tennis together?
Joel: We did, but I lost. I’ve been playing since I was a child. Seung Min-hyung is a god. I can’t win even with an advantage. (laugh)
What’s your goal for this year?
Danny: Music-wise, Used Cassettes will release a new album. And I will finish working on my solo album. And I also hope I will get offered some interesting model or TV, film activities. I want to keep doing music first, so I hope a lot of people will check out and enjoy Used Cassettes.
Joel: If I get the opportunity while doing many modelling activities, I want to try acting. That’s how I think now. If I keep working and giving my all like I have until now, then I can do anything.
Daniel: I want to keep going for my dream as a tattoo artist and I hope people will enjoy my tattoos. I also want to hold an exhibition next year. Until then I will work hard for this year to become a better tattoo artist and a better model.
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Translation: @thesunnytown – thesunnytown.wordpress.com