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[Herald Interview] Tyler Rasch on escaping ‘The Box’

American TV personality-turned-producer set for journalistic documentary to empower Korean youth

Television personality Tyler Rasch poses for photos at co-working space Fast Five in western Seoul on May 11. (Photo by Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)
Television personality Tyler Rasch poses for photos at co-working space Fast Five in western Seoul on May 11. (Photo by Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)

While young Koreans are experiencing a chronic collective despair in past decades, partly due to the stagnant economy, American TV personality Tyler Rasch -- familiar to the public for his TV appearances -- hopes to encourage them through an independent documentary series.

To make his message more sincere, Rasch did not turn to major production companies to launch his new serial show “The Box,” but rather decided to take the reins himself.

“I did not want my message compromised. I wanted to make sure that someone else does not repackage this message as some sort of self-improvement content,” Rasch told The Korea Herald.

“The Box,” slated for an official kickoff in June, will be like an “artful piece of journalistic documentary,” according to the TV personality-turned-producer.

While each episode tells one person’s story on breaking free of their own box, there will be a undercurrent flow through the series, as Tyler -- also host of the show -- accompanies viewers along the journey, he explained.

“We want it to be immersive. In order for people to really feel like they can break out of the box, they need to feel like it is very personal. It cannot feel like an instruction or someone else’s formula to success,” Rasch said.

On April 22, Rasch and his production team kicked off a one-month crowdfunding campaign on Tumblbug to raise funds for the pilot episode in order to see whether the show would be well-received. As of Sunday, around 45 percent of the 50 million won ($40,550) target had been reached.

“So far, the qualitative reaction from the supporters is super-positive. People started donating even before we really did any sort of major marketing. Although we’re not as far along in reaching our goal as we would like to be, we’re still moving and the fact that it did not flop is a success in itself,” Rasch said. 


Television personality Tyler Rasch speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at co-working space Fast Five in western Seoul on May 11. (Photo by Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)
Television personality Tyler Rasch speaks during an interview with The Korea Herald at co-working space Fast Five in western Seoul on May 11. (Photo by Park Hyun-koo/ The Korea Herald)

The project idea naturally came to Rasch following his 10-year stay in Korea, as his experience here helped him break out of his own mold.

“Korea has shown me that I am able to do anything I wish and be who I want to be even outside America -- not just the job or the education I wanted, but I can create my own world based on my own ideas, and Korea was the place that I learned that. So I want Koreans to see that too.”

Rasch emphasized the courage to break away from what is considered a norm and finding one’s own path is especially important for the Korean youths born in the 1980s and after, as they are the first generation to truly compete internationally.

With overseas travel liberalized only in 1989, and privatizations in the 1990s following South Korea’s acceptance to the World Trade Organization in 1995, the generational gap between the young Koreans and those older is inevitably wider than those in other parts of the world, he explains.

“The young people know that they have to diversify their routes, because they’re already experiencing the changes in their present. But their parents don’t agree and the expectations in the society don’t dictate that. They have prove the new concept somehow, and that’s where this project comes in.”

Rasch stresses empowering yourself through breaking out of your mold is not an issue of enhancing your value, but a matter of survival, especially in the near future. Putting all the eggs into one basket is the worst idea, he warns.

“People who will be successful, happy and safe in the future are going to be people who have diversified their own lives. If you focus on one career and one skill set, just a little shake to the economy, just like now with the COVID-19 crisis, could be fatal to your life.”

Rasch initially moved to Korea to learn the language. Speaking Korean almost as proficiently as a native, he has appeared in several popular TV shows, including JTBC’s “Where Is My Friend’s Home?” (2015-2016) and tvN’s “Problematic Men” (2015-2019). Majoring international studies at the University of Chicago, he continued his education in Korea, attending the master’s program at the Seoul National University. In 2017, he founded consulting firm T-Able to help Korean startup companies advance overseas.

Crowdfunding for “The Box” runs until Friday. If the goal is reached, the donated money can be cashed out for use in producing the pilot episode of the show and the first episode will shoot next month, with editing to finish by the end of July and possibly reaching airwaves in August.

The show, planned to hold 6-8 episodes per set, is expected to be launched online, but the exact format and platform is still being discussed, Rasch said.

To find out more information on “The Box” project or to support funding, visit the crowdfunding website at https://tumblbug.com/tylershow


By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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