In the Fighting Game Community, there are two phrases that can make or break someone: GET GOOD and STAY FREE. 

Get good is obvious. Stay Free is pointing out that someone is terrible and they need to go back to the drawing board.

Two days ago, I realized I was constantly staying free in my work.

I fell asleep editing a new video. I almost fell asleep WATCHING my videos.

Conclusion: I was BORING.

Let me spell it out for you: B-O-R-I-N-G

It sounds like i’m being my worst critic but this goes WAY beyond that.

Realizing this put me in these stages:

Failure (not accomplishing my goals)
Reviewing (finding out why I failed)
Understanding (owning up to it)
Conviction (coming to a conclusion that i’ve been an editor for nine years and had little to show for it).

My conviction exposed I was a copycat, a leech, and unoriginal.

Look at this video and look at mines. See any difference? In the words of DJ Khalid:

One of the guys I study sent me this:

“Skills translate to other areas. Besides there is no “there” or “success” anyway. Life is always in flux.

I don’t understand “there” but I do agree with him on “success”. Everyone has their own definition of it. My failures could be someone’s success and vice versa. Life being in flux is something out of my control.

What I CAN control is how I RESPOND.

My conviction exposed my strengths and weaknesses.

It also helped me look at this from a winner’s point of view.

When you start something, you’re going to suck at it. With video and media, it felt like every year was my “first” year.

February 3rd, 2007. My first ever YouTube channel was made. I interviewed voice actors in Japanese animation and video games. I also interviewed professional cosplayers (portmanteau of costume and play).

I branched out from sports production (I was a director/producer for live high school varsity sports online) and used what I learned to make my own thing.

Bad habits of talking over my guests and talking about things that didn’t matter carried over (I was a commentator prior and did that too). The one thing university DID do for me was help me learn how to talk to my guests (which would be helpful in the future).

Fall semester of 2010, I started another channel. This time to showcase my editing skills. That channel got one of my former students into St. John’s University in New York City. Years later, it got my brother into a college in California.

When I first moved to Korea (Feb. 2012), I decided to create travel related videos somewhat similar to Anthony Bourdain’s.

By that time, I wanted to start making money with my work. I love filming and editing and I really wanted to make a living off of it. Since I couldn’t get a job in media production, I decided to make one.

Things picked up in 2013 when I interviewed dance sensation Waveya (look at their sub count). I later interviewed Dante Carver in Japan.

Those interviews and so-called travel videos got me noticed by this Australian Kpop website.

I was so overjoyed, it clouded my common sense. I agreed to work for free like a baby back dumbass.

Actually, calling myself that isn’t fair. See, I was taught that if I wanted to get something, i’d have to do some work for free; make connections and all that bull. Connections work if BOTH parties benefit. I didn’t know how one sided it was. Busting tail to make someone else money while I was “paid” in false praise set me up to fail.

But yeah, I how about that exposure?! (Kids, for my sake PLEASE do not fall for that “exposure” trap)

In mid-2015, I created two new channels. One to show my editing skills in a more professional manner and one like my previous travel channel (you can see where this is going).

The pro editing channel has some test reels I did for the NBA. It also has my documentary which is something i’m very proud of (it’s on this site’s first page at the bottom if you want to see it).

The other one, Pop Over Asia, was created in hopes of regaining the level of success I had in 2013. This was the start of my slow burn towards my breakdown.

Since creating P.O.A., I made videos on how to survive in Korea. I also made videos showing off cool places in Korea and Japan. That’s pretty much the jist of it. FUN RIGHT?!

My most successful videos came in January 2016. American animation Family Guy did an episode on Korea and I did two videos on it. One was on the cultural references in Korea and the other was a response video from Koreans. Those worked cause I did something fresh and niche.

The following month, I did 29 Reasons and went back to the status quo.

STAY FREE SHAUN, STAY FREE!

Everything I experienced in nine years comes down to stubborness, not moving forward, and being a leech.

Everything I underlined were my problems. I refused to grow. I was leeching off famous people in hopes of getting what they worked hard for. I tried the same things over and over again and expected different results. That’s the definition of insanity.

The conviction led to self-reflection which cleared my head. My computer breaking was a bonus to keep my mind focused.

I meditated and thought about hustlers in Korea, especially in Hongdae.

In Hongdae, there are usually six or seven entertainers on same street. They all do the same song and dance (actual dancing, playing guitar, rapping the same type of things). One group (or person) will have a large crowd while the others gets a smaller crowd or no crowd at all. The ones with little were too late and/or unoriginal.

Certain hustlers in Korea do things from a group mentality.

In Korea, being the same is the norm while being an original holds a negative stigma. It’s heartbreaking to see kids with imagination lose it when they start middle school. At that point, they’re mentally broken down, the system makes the kids look and act the same, and they’re not allowed to freely think. They’re taught that college and so much unimportant things like music, games, and studying other cultures are tools for “destruction”.

Girls are taught that the only way to get by is to fabricate their beauty, find a rich husband, have kids, and sit around.

Boys are taught they’re supposed to be strong, not have emotions, and follow a set number of rules only to be ruled by their wives to be in the future.

I see new kids on a weekly basis. When they leave, some of them cry. I ask them why they’re crying and it’s almost always “Because we have to go back to school“.

Only a few are able to make it out of Korea or out of that mindset (hence why Korea is considered “Hell Joesen”).

What’s ironic is those that stand out are loved by the ones by those that make the “rules” of conformity! Kpop group Crayon Pop is probably one of the few AND most original Korean music groups of this generation. Their fans include old Korean men: the ones that set the socitial standard on how “dangerous” being original is. IRONY!

A similar stigma exists in black American culture. We call this “slave mentality”.

Being yourself is more valuable than being a copy.

My computer and mind breaking was the best thing to happen to me this week. It took a LONG time to come to this conclusion and I hope it can help someone else out there. If you’re just getting started, you’ll suck. This is okay. This is part of the process. Just be you. You can be inspired by others and you can learn from them but don’t copy them. GROW. LEARN. DO.

Take care this weekend. We all need some love, especially with all that happened this week.

Peace and love.
Shaun