AN ANNOUNCER*, an actress, and now an aspiring YouTuber. These are the labels that follow Choi Song-hyun, an alumna of the College of Communication of Yonsei University. Some people call her courageous; others call her reckless. Regardless, no one can deny her passion for the pursuit of new identities. With the recent creation of her very own YouTube channel, SONGHYUNC FILM, she has once again defined herself with a new status as a content creator. Even in the face of uncertainty, Choi has grasped the tail ends of her seemingly unattainable dreams through her fearless drive to defy the norms. To offer some inspiration to those who are still hesitant about facing new challenges, The Yonsei Annals interviewed Choi Song-hyun to hear about how she remained true to her heart’s desires throughout her life.
Annals: What motivated you to change your occupation from an announcer to an actress?
Choi: Actually, becoming an actress had always been my childhood dream; working as an announcer was simply an occupational goal. At that time, not much was known about how to become an actress, and as a well-behaved daughter, I prepared to become an announcer like many other students in the College of Communication do. I attended a broadcasting academy but quit after realizing that its programs only focused on superficialities, such as appearance. So, I spent the first semester of my senior year without any future plans. Then, I accidentally stumbled upon an opportunity to work as a weathercaster and found the concept of standing in front of cameras appealing. This experience motivated me to apply for a job as an announcer, and I was fortunate enough to enter the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).
Eventually, I began to feel uncomfortable with the industry’s organizational culture and strict hierarchy. I was at a crossroads where I had to choose between complying to the hierarchical culture or reclaiming my identity. One day, while moderating a talk show that had invited a number of entertainers as its guests, I suddenly found myself wanting to sit in their seats and engage in unrestrained banter like they did. From that moment on, I decided to take a step towards my childhood dream of becoming an actress, which would still involve standing in front of the camera.
Annals: In addition to your job as an actress, you currently run a YouTube channel called SONGHYUNC FILM. What motivated you to start your own YouTube channel?
Choi: The main drawback of being an announcer or an actress is that you have nothing to do until you are assigned your next project. I have an endless passion for performing, but I was not working as much as my heart desired. Normally, I establish a specific goal and work endlessly until I achieve it. However, when I entered the entertainment industry, I could not set up any objectives. I was thirsty for work and wanted more independence.
This type of unrest is the reason why I picked up scuba diving as a hobby. Not only was it a way to fill the emptiness I was feeling inside, but it was also what inspired me to start my YouTube career. Celebrities lead contradicting lives: though they strive to get recognized by people, they sometimes wish to be left alone. So, while searching for places to satiate my fervor for scuba diving, I purposely focused on finding places that not many Koreans go to. Yet, I found myself also wanting to introduce these unfamiliar places to everyone.
Coincidentally, I discovered that while more people are becoming interested in the recreational activity, there are not many Korean YouTube channels dedicated to scuba diving. So, I seized the opportunity and utilized the platform to share my knowledge with the viewers. For example, the basic concept for my channel right now is “underwater travel diary,” but I want to further develop it by producing contents that educate people on the state of our current marine environment. I want to capture its beauty and inspire others to take more interest in the problems that it is facing. YouTube became the perfect outlet for me to not only take control of the content I produced, but to also allow me to lead a more active lifestyle.
Annals: Following the recent trend of me-media**, there has been an increase in the number of full-time content creators on various social media platforms. Do you have any plans to become a full-time YouTuber?
Choi: No—if it were to become my day job, I would have to force myself to create contents that I do not enjoy. For example, if the tourism bureau were to ask me to introduce a particular touristic spot, I might easily fall into the temptation of accepting such proposal even when I feel reluctant in doing so.
Also, many full-time creators earn profit not only through view counts but also through advertisements. This would mean that I would not be able to voice any negative opinions on the products or services that I am advertising for. Ever since I began my career as an announcer, I already had a certain established brand image, so my words have had an influential power. That is why I have promised to always clarify whether my video is sponsored. Still, as my dream is to film a round-the-world trip one day, there is a possibility of my becoming a full-time content creator for some period of time in the future.
Annals: SONGHYUNC FILM mainly focuses on topics related to scuba diving. Are there any other new topics you wish to delve into?
Choi: I would love to create content that educates the viewers on ways to edit videos. When I first started making videos, I learned everything through YouTube. Although there are many channels that post lessons on video editing, there are rarely any videos that are both engaging and easy to understand. I think it would be more exciting to explain how to edit videos using my own production process as an example. Teaching my video effect techniques to others would also help me refresh my memory.
Annals: Do you have any words of advice for Yonseians who are uncertain of their future?
Choi: You really need to listen to your heart and reflect on your personality. One of the main dilemmas you will face while choosing a career path is whether to pursue a stable yet passionless career or pursue a career that resonates with you but has an unpredictable nature. Ask yourself, “Are you someone who is afraid of failure and criticisms, or are you someone who embraces failure and accepts it as a valuable experience?” It is not a matter of right or wrong; rather, it is a matter of what you value more. Now that society has become more information-oriented, it has become easier to multitask. This gives you more opportunities to find what you love. There are so many exciting activities waiting to be discovered if one puts in just a little bit of energy. So, utilize the time you have to find an interest that you are willing to invest in!
*Announcer: In Korea, announcers are professionals who are recruited in broadcasting companies. They are assigned to different departments, such as news, entertainment, sports, and radio.
**Me-media: A term for online media services which allow individuals to create and share their own content