The Korea Herald


Why celebrities are turning to YouTube

Increasing numbers of K-celebs are creating content and casually sharing their hobbies via the online platform

By Rumy Doo

Published : Sept. 26, 2017 - 15:30

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From comedians to singers, a handful of Korean celebrities are crossing over to YouTube to create content in their respective fields or share their hobbies.

K-pop duo Akdong Musician’s Suhyun opened beauty channel “Mochi Peach” in June; girl group f(x)’s Amber started comedy and daily life channel “What The Pineapple!” in 2015; former girl group 2NE1’s Sandara Park launched a channel of her daily activities, called “Dara TV,” in June.

A range of other channels are also available, set up by comedienne Lee Guk-joo, K-pop group BTOB’s Peniel, Rainbow’s Oh Seung-ah, singer-songwriter IU and actor Baek Bong-gi.

Three comedian-turned-YouTubers spoke with press at the Google Campus Seoul in Gangnam-gu, Tuesday, on their newfound identities and why celebrities are seeking out the online platform.

From left: Akdong Musician's Suhyun, f(x)'s Amber, f(x)'s Luna appear on self-made YouTube videos (YouTube) From left: Akdong Musician's Suhyun, f(x)'s Amber, f(x)'s Luna appear on self-made YouTube videos (YouTube)

Kang Yu-mi, who rose to popularity on the live comedy show “Gag Concert” around 2009, launched her YouTube channel in 2015. She feels that YouTube allows her to showcase herself as a more complex person.

“When I was on TV, people only knew me as a funny person. On YouTube, I eat and show different small things in my life. There’s this feeling that I as a person am being supported.”

Kim Ki-soo, who began creating beauty videos on YouTube in 2012 and now hosts a beauty web series on Mobidic, agreed. “You can express 100 percent of your charm on YouTube.” Kim Ki-yeol, who livestreams online game-playing, often for 10 hours at a time, said that the platform brings an “incredible amount of freedom.”

One significant advantage of the medium is the instant and constant feedback, the creators said.

“I’m not overflowing with ideas, so I ask my subscribers for new ideas a lot,” said Kang.

Kang’s beauty tutorials dubbed into a comedic mix of Japanese and Korean languages have become a hit online. “That idea came from a subscriber, too, and it got great responses.” 

“I think the reason many people start a YouTube (channel) in the first place is to communicate with their fans, so I think that’s the right thing to do,” said Kim Ki-soo. “I think the appeal of a YouTube channel is that it’s something you create together with your subscribers.”

Kim Ki-soo added that he believes the global attention has shifted from K-pop to K-beauty. 

From left: Kim Ki-soo, Kang Yu-mi and Kim Ki-yeol speak to press at the Google Campus Seoul in Gangnam-gu, Tuesday. (YouTube-KPR) From left: Kim Ki-soo, Kang Yu-mi and Kim Ki-yeol speak to press at the Google Campus Seoul in Gangnam-gu, Tuesday. (YouTube-KPR)

The creators also spoke of the palpable difference between traditional broadcast media and digital media. The types of content that “work” are entirely different, they said.

“When I first (started YouTube), (fellow comedienne) Ahn Young-mi and I went to the Korean Folk Village, dressed up in costumes and wigs and stayed there shooting skits for a whole day as you do for TV variety shows,” said Kang. “That video really did not get many views. That’s when I realized, this is a completely different world.”

Viewers prefer the more personalized content found online, she said, asking questions such as “What do these new spicy noodles taste like? How do you dye your own hair?” Content filmed in her own room with a minimal setup -- makeup tutorials, food reviews, daily routines -- fared much better, she noted.

“It’s not a world where the output matches the input. I once tried to start a travel accommodations review on my channel, with my own money. I gave up, because the returns were nothing.”

Kang says she now makes around 2 million won ($1,759) per month purely for the number of hits her videos receive. “Right now, it’s nothing compared to what I made in television,” she said.

Meanwhile Kim Ki-soo, who will be launching a set of his own makeup brushes later this year, has grown much larger as a YouTube personality. The profits are “significant,” he said.

“Another advantage is that you really interact with people from all over the world. Most of my subscribers are in Australia, the UK, Italy and Japan,” he said. “I’m being invited to events there. (YouTube) really lets you learn about trends everywhere, but you have to keep up.”

By Rumy Doo (

A list of YouTube channels run by celebrities:

Akdong Musician Suhyun - "Mochi Peach" (Beauty) 

BTOB Peniel - "POV" (Daily life)

Comedienne Lee Guk-joo (Dance covers)

Rainbow Oh Seung-ah - "O'style" (Beauty, exercise, food)

f(x) Amber - "What The Pineapple!" (Comedy, daily life)

f(x) Luna - "Luna's Alphabet" (Beauty)

Sandara Park - "DARA TV" (Travel, pets, daily life) 

Comedienne Kang Yu-mi (Beauty, daily life) 

Comedian Kim Ki-soo "DJ Kisoo Men's Beauty" (Beauty) 

Comedian Kim Ki-yeol (Gaming)