World traveler, Vilius Vasiliauskas, was born from a small city in Lithuania – Kretinga. After graduating secondary school, he then chose to continue his studies in Aston University, England, UK. There he received Politics and International Relations higher education, but after moving to South Korea, he turned to an unexpected path – creating a “Youtube” channel.
What’s the story behind you living so far away from home? Was South Korea a challenge you have put out for yourself or was it the culture that attracted you the most to live there?
Firstly, I arrived to South Korea with a university exchange program. The year I was in Korea with my exchange program was the best year of my life. However I was that kind of person, who always said, he would never come back to South Korea. I wanted to visit as many different countries and live in as many different states as I could. But since my parents didn’t have a chance to visit me on my exchange year in South Korea, I bought them tickets after my graduation, because I decided they needed to see this country. I then had to work in Brussels, but I didn’t quite like the job I had. I wanted to do something else, so I thought I would stay in Korea couple of months longer. In that time I got to know Korea’s startup culture, I helped couple of my Korean friends with it. After seeing that it was a great way to make money from it, I decided to start my own business here. I never wanted to work in an office, so making my own app in Korea was really handy.
Korea – is a country that has a different understanding of life, of people. Their culture and traditions are very distinct. How did you manage to adapt in this type of country? Did you have a cultural shock?
It depends on what you call a cultural shock; is it what it shocks you? Yes, Korea is full of things that are different from our culture. Now, after three years of living here, I still find myself unable to understand a lot of things. Probably I never will. But the things that would shock me, I believe don’t exist. I am quite an open person and I accept thing well that are not the same as I am used to. Although for example when I was in Japan, I had my cultural shock there, I was shocked. I was traveling with a friend of mine and before our trip we watched a video on “Youtube” about Japanese coffee shops with maids. When we were in Japan, we were walking down the street and suddenly we saw one of those shops. Inside everything was lovely, too lovely actually – the maids were acting like children. We thought the view was just spectacular and impressive even when someone was only giving us the fliers on the street. And after we went inside, there was so much sweetness, so much cuteness, that it seemed that the people aren’t real somehow. It was so strange… My friend and I looked at each other and just ran away from the coffee shop. Literally…
On your “Youtube” channel you have more than 100 thousand subscribers and millions of views. What was it that inspired you to begin your video blogger carrier?
It all started from a simple thing. Before returning to Korea with my parents, I bought a camera and we were traveling there for 2-3 weeks. I was capturing every moment. Korea has a lot of video contests, so I made a couple of videos about Korea and I so that way participated in the contests. I won couple of them and I thought that I’m doing well in videography. I started using “Youtube” probably since its inception, I use it for everything: learning English, photo editing, business… everything. Before coming to Korea I used to watch a lot of videos about this country and I thought I should give this a try myself and try to share my thoughts and experiences on it.
First videos were all about nature, there were no thoughts or conversations.
Yes, first videos were made from my traveling moments, videos made for contests. Later appeared the “advice” type of videos for foreigners that are planning to visit Korea. These videos would make you prepare for your trip and answer questions I had before first flying to Korea. And later on, they became acted videos about Korea. Now I just do the later videos.
Many of your videos reveal different thoughts and views on life between westerners and Koreans. Do any of your friends and acquaintances get offended by your scripts?
I am very careful about this topic with my Korean friends, with them it is very dangerous. Koreans are big patriots and nationalists. They are unable to accept any criticism about Korea. I know some people that work in Korean TV and there are thing that they are allowed to say on air and there are things that they aren’t. I don’t create videos to offend Koreans, but of course there is a group of people that get offended. Sometimes we do make fun of Koreans, however we also make fun of something about foreigners living in Korea. It’s not like it’s a one way street. Overall it’s quite hard to make fun of Koreans, but my friends speak English well and their mentality is broader and adopted to westerners’ type of mentality. People that don’t speak English don’t understand that my videos are simple and they aren’t offensive to anyone.
When you first started to create videos, what kind of audience were you expecting to obtain? Westerners or Koreans?
In the beginning my audience was foreigners traveling to Korea. But it happened that I had made couple of videos that only had couple of thousands of views. One morning after waking up I received “millions” of notifications on my “Facebook” profile. My friends tagged me in one video. It was my own video that one Korean that I didn’t know personally downloaded it from my “Youtube” channel and made Korean subtitles to it. The video was about funny Korean graduation pictures. This video received big popularity – around couple million views in couple of days. Since then, my Korean friends helped me with writing Korean subtitles to my videos. Then I understood that many of Koreans are interested in my work. And since that my main audience became Korean.
You are a guy with exclusive looks in Korea: blond hair, blue eyes. Have you ever been recognised in a public place? What is the typical reaction of your fans?
When I used to live in a neighbourhood popular among foreigners, I used to get recognised every day. There were always someone that would stop me on the street to say hi. Mainly they were all foreigners, Koreans are too shy to do such things. Sometimes I used to see how Koreans recognised me, were watching me and talking about me, but wouldn’t find courage to approach me. One of the braver incidents happened on a metro. There was a Korean guy standing beside me. When he raised his head and saw me standing next to him he started screaming so that everybody on that metro could hear him. He didn’t speak English but he was trying to show something on his phone screen. At that moment he was watching one of my videos and he was one of my subscribers. Seeing me in public was a huge shock for him. I had quite a lot of similar incidents like this, especially with Koreans. That’s the thing, either their reactions are very shocking or there aren’t any at all.
Do you like the attention you get on the streets? It’s nice to know you are being watched after all.
How should I put this, many of the people that create “Youtube” channels do it to become internet stars or get into acting. But for me, I just like making videos. I always wanted to stay behind the camera, but I just couldn’t find anything that would stand in front of it. So I had to do it myself. It’s not like I enjoy being recognised on the street, sometimes I’m in a hurry and I don’t have time to talk to strangers. In those situations it’s very awkward to disrupt the conversation. But sometimes, when I meet foreigners, they motivate me a lot. They tell me that my videos really helped them before coming to Korea.
Do you have your most favourite video that you made? What is it about?
I wouldn’t say that I have one most favourite video. But it was quite fun filming a video about Korean dramas. These types of dramas are very popular not only in Korea, but all Asia as well. Everybody knows them. I also watched one of them and I can say that I haven’t seen so much drama that they put in a single episode. Then an idea popped into my head to make a “Korean drama vs. real life” episode. It ended up being a really funny video that many people liked. Another video that I really like is about things that I really love in Korea.
It’s interesting to know about the process of your videos. How do you think of the main topic, filming location, script… How do you choose those things? Maybe there’s a special place or thing that motivates you?
Usually the idea appears from an everyday thing that looks interesting enough for me to make a video out of. For example, one of the latest videos appeared together with an American friend. When she came into my home, she asked: “is your home a shoe on or off type of home?”. For me it was strange because in Lithuanian home everybody stays with their shoes off, they don’t. These types of simple things are great ideas for a video. I just make a list of ideas that I constantly fill in. On that list there are maybe 100-150 ideas. Whenever I have time, I take one of the ideas and I try to expand it. Filming location isn’t important. Wherever it’s possible or wherever I am usually do the job. Then I just look for friends that can help me with the making of the video.
Do you have a video related dream that you would like to implement?
In television when you have an idea you have to bring it to your agent, he then brings it to producer and so on. It takes a lot of time. On “Youtube” on the other hand, you can do whatever you’re pleased. When you have an idea, you just do it. If I had a dream video I would just go ahead and make it. Unless it’s something higher level than I do right now. Maybe I’d like to do a video series. Four or five 10 minute long episodes. It would be interesting to do, but it takes time, money and planning. Maybe sometime in the future.
You work hard, film, edit. Do you have time to follow other people’s channels? Maybe there’s a temptation to copy some of the things from other people’s video and use it in your one channel?
I don’t watch TV series or movies like I used to do, now I’m only interested in what other people do on “Youtube”. But I never want to copy their work, quite contrary. Sometimes you see a video and realise that you had the same idea but it’s already made. It is a rather big problem of “Youtube” that occurs quite often. Some people copy others. Sometimes it’s not a bad thing that you have a similar or the same idea, what’s important is how you can make it different and your own. For a while in Korea I didn’t watch other people’s work because I was afraid to see my idea. I was afraid to have to reject it because someone else thought about it first.
Do you receive many negative comments on your “Youtube” channel? Do you consider them or just ignore them and continue creating what you like?
Most of my negative comments come from Koreans that maybe get offended by some particular details or stories of my videos. Comments from foreigners though are positive. On “Youtube” channels always appears some crazy people that, minutes after uploading a new video, write some super racist comments. Of course after seeing such comments there isn’t much enthusiasm left to continue reading but you have to. I want to know if people like the idea or not. I often times experiment with my videos and so it’s interesting to know the opinions of the viewers.
Please share three of your best advice in order to start creating video blogs.
First of all, be consistent. It was a mistake I did myself. In the beginning I didn’t realise what meant 50 thousand views, it was all just numbers to me. I didn’t realise that those views stood behind people. At that time I worked a lot with my startup, my channel was just a hobby, a way to relax. I used to upload one video every two to three weeks, it was a mistake. It’s very important to be consistent, at least one video per week. It is one of the biggest mistakes of newcomers to “Youtube”.
Next thing is originality. Now on “Youtube” platform there are millions of videos, marketing is overloaded so you have to have something unique to show. When I started to make videos, I didn’t think anyone would watch them, internet was already full of videos on Korean topic. There was even a meeting with Youtubers that make videos about Korea. My channel grew so rapidly while other had to build their viewership in 2 years time. They asked me how did I do it. The most important thing is to be original.
The last thing I’m going to mention is consciousness. You have to understand how much work you have to put in to produce one video. When I started to make videos, I thought it’s quite simple: 15 min for filming, another 15 min for editing and that’s it. I soon realised that it takes a lot more work than that. Many people asked for my help editing videos. However as I know, all of them quit making them. They failed to realise how much work and time you have to sacrifice in order to achieve a good result.
You can find Vilius’ video here:
Interviewed by: Brigita Arlauskaitė
Translated by: Laura Bukšnytė
Edited by: Ineza Stankovskytė