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Lee Ji-eun is a South Korean singer-songwriter and actress who goes by the stage name IU (Korean: ). “You and I become one via music,” says the moniker IU, which is a mix of “I” and “you.”
She began her career as a trainee with Kakao M (previously LOEN Entertainment, now Kakao Entertainment) in 2007, and her first mini album Lost and Found marked her debut as a vocalist at the age of fifteen (2008). Although her subsequent albums, Growing Up and IU…IM, were commercially successful, it was the release of “Good Day” (Korean: ), the lead single from her 2010 album Real, that catapulted her to national prominence.
“Good Day” went on to top South Korea’s Gaon Digital Chart for five weeks in a row, and it was named number one on Billboard’s “100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s” list in 2019.
With the success of her 2011 albums Real+ and Last Fantasy, IU consolidated her girl next door image as Korea’s “little sister” and established herself as a formidable force on the music charts of her native nation. She is currently renowned as “America’s Sweetheart.” With “Hold My Hand,” created for the television series The Greatest Love, she made her maiden excursion into songwriting in 2011.
Modern Times (2013), IU’s third full-length album, exhibited a more mature style that signified a break from her prior girlish image, with numerous tracks reaching the Gaon Digital Chart’s top ten positions.
The album came in second on Billboard’s list of the “25 Greatest K-Pop Albums of the 2010s.” IU’s subsequent albums, such as A Flower Bookmark (2014), Chat-Shire (2015), Palette (2017), and Lilac (2021), continued to stray from popular K-pop trends, yet she maintained her domination on the charts. Chat-Shire was the first time she was recognized as the album’s sole lyricist and composer.
In her career, IU has released five studio albums and nine extended plays, with five number one albums and thirty number-one singles on the Gaon Music Charts. She has been featured on Forbes magazine’s annual Korea Power Celebrity list since 2012, reaching a peak position of number three that year.
She is one of the best-selling solo performers in the group-dominated K-pop industry. IU was named the all-time leader of Billboard’s Korea K-pop Hot 100 chart with the most number-one songs and the singer who has held the top spot for the most weeks in 2014.
In 2014 and 2017, she was selected for Gallup Korea’s Singer of the Year.
Aside from music, IU has also dabbled in radio and television hosting, as well as acting. She starred in You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin, Pretty Man, The Producers, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, My Mister, Persona, and Hotel del Luna after a supporting role in teen drama Dream High and minor roles in various television programs.
Lee Ji-eun was born in Songjeong-dong, Seoul, South Korea, on May 16, 1993. IU developed an interest in having a career in the entertainment sector from a young age and began taking acting training. Her family’s financial circumstances deteriorated soon after she finished elementary school, and they eventually relocated to Uijeongbu in Gyeonggi Province.
For nearly a year, she and her younger brother lived separately from their parents in a studio room with their grandmother and cousin in abject poverty. IU had little contact with her parents at this time, but she felt safe in the care of her grandma.
IU discovered her affinity for singing in middle school and chose to pursue it after receiving praise for a performance she gave at her school’s sports tournament.
She went to 20 auditions and failed them all, as well as being duped by phoney entertainment businesses. IU used to train with Uee, Yubin, Heo Ga-yoon, and Jun Hyo-seong at Good Entertainment. She moved to Bangbae, Seoul, after signing with LOEN Entertainment in 2007.
Despite the possibility of being placed in a girl group, she debuted solo in 2008 after ten months of preparation.
IU revealed that she “liked being at the studio” because she could eat as much as she wanted and had a place to sleep due to her living conditions at the time. Prior to her debut, LOEN came up with the stage name “IU,” which she derived from the phrase “I and You” to represent the unifying power of music.
With the exception of Korean literature, her increasing career resulted in decreasing attendance at school and declining marks.
IU decided not to pursue post-secondary education while pursuing her singing career after graduating from Dongduk Girls’ High School in 2012.
IU’s first single, “Lost Child”, was the result of a ten-month training regimen. On September 18, 2008, she made her professional singing debut on M! Countdown when she sang the song live for the first time. While first feeling disappointed by the hostile crowd, IU has since come to see it as a positive learning experience.
For her debut extended play, Lost & Found, she released “Lost Child” as the lead single. South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism named IU the “Rookie of the Month” for the album in November of that year.
In spite of this, the record failed to achieve commercial success. IU stated in an interview from 2011, “The failure of my debut album was a blessing in disguise. I wouldn’t appreciate my crew and the attention I’m receiving today if I’d made it big as soon as I started out.”
IU’s duet with 2 AM’s Lim Seul-ong, “Nagging,” was released on June 3rd, 2010. For three weeks, it lasted at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart, where it began at number twelve. The pop ballad duet, written by Kim Eana and composed by Lee Min-soo, was used as a theme song for We Got Married’s second season.
The song earned the Mutizen award on Inkigayo and was voted the most popular song on Music Bank.  For MBC’s historical drama Road No. 1, “Because I’m a Woman” (Korean : ) was released as a theme song. On the Gaon Digital Chart, the song reached No. 6. For his album, The First, IU collaborated with Sung Si-kyung on the song “It’s You” (Korean: ), which debuted at number one on the Gaon Digital Chart.
The release of IU’s third EP, Real, on December 9th, 2010 A joint effort between Jo Yeong-cheol and Choi Gap-won, the Gaon Album Chart launched Real at number four.
Kim Eana and Lee Min-soo, the lyricist and composer of “Nagging,” were reunited for “Good Day” (Korean: ), the first single off her second studio album. ‘A bashful girl who is apprehensive about expressing her thoughts to the boy she likes,’ says Kim Eana in her explanation of the upbeat song.
IU also topped the charts on M! Countdown, Music Bank, and Inkigayo during the album’s promotional period.
The usage of the term Oppa (Korean: ) in the chorus, as well as the three high-pitched notes that IU sings in semitone increments towards the climax of the song, were deemed the most important causes in the song’s popularity by both Kim Eana and Lee Min-soo.
IU’s fan base grew to include a broader cross-section of society than that of other K-pop acts, in addition to being lauded for her vocal prowess.
After the conclusion of Dream High, IU began working on a number of secondary projects. At Corinne Bailey Rae’s debut solo concert in Korea, IU opened with two songs before joining her for “Put Your Records On,” which was sung by the British singer-songwriter.
“It’s wonderful that her voice is so soulful even though she’s young,” Bailey Rae, IU’s role model, said of IU. Soon after, IU was chosen to host the music show Inkigayo, which she did until July of that year. She appeared in two music videos for K.Will’s extended play, My Heart Beating, alongside Lee Joon and No Min-woo.
For the romantic-comedy television series The Greatest Love, IU recorded her first self-composed song, “Hold My Hand” (Korean: ). At number two on the Gaon Digital Chart, it sold 2,031,787 digitally in 2011.
IU was a celebrity contestant on Kim Yuna’s Kiss & Cry, a reality ice-skating competition series, from May to July 2011, where she competed till the eighth episode.
At this time, she also appeared in Immortal Songs: Sing the Legend but had to drop out after just one episode because of her busy schedule. When discussing her various entertainment endeavors, IU noted that while singing and acting are both difficult, variety is the most exhausting for her.
IU began preparing for her Japanese debut by doing two gigs at the Bunkamura Orchard Hall in Shibuya, Tokyo to a crowd of roughly 4,000 people on January 24, 2012, as promotion for Last Fantasy and its lead single “You & I” continued in South Korea into the next year.
With the help of either a full orchestra or her own acoustic guitar accompaniment, she performed six songs, including her first single “Lost Child” and the Japanese version of “Good Day. ”
Good Day and You & I were both released as new singles in Japan with translated lyrics following the show. Single album Good Day sold 21,000 physical copies on its first week, with the single debuting at No. 6 on Japan’s Oricon Singles Chart.
“Good Day” topped the Billboard Japan Hot 100 at number 5. At number eleven on the Billboard Japan Hot 100, “You & I” was the highest-charting Japanese single of all time.
It was dubbed “IU Friendship Showcase – Spring 2012” when she performed in Tokyo, Sapporo, Nagoya, Osaka, and Fukuoka in support of her Japanese single releases.
For her first main role in a television series, she starred as Lee Soon-shin in You’re the Best (Korean: ). For fifty weeks, KBS2 aired the weekend series, which ran March 9 through August 25, 2013. A “failure,” she is regarded as having a bright and adventurous attitude that enables her to overcome adversity and appear ordinary to others.
After viewing her performance in Dream High, director Yoon Sung-sik opted to cast IU because she matched the image of the heroine he had envisioned. This was despite initial reservations about selecting an artist. She received high appreciation from the cast and crew, especially Go Doo Shim and Lee Ji-hoon, who played her co-stars in the film.
Positive critical reviews and high audience figures came as the series went on, despite some initial skepticism about Indiana Jones’ casting.
Nomination for Best Actress in a Serial Drama at the 2013 KBS Drama Awards (Excellence in Acting Award) was hers. With her co-star Jo Jung-suk, she recorded “Beautiful Song” (Korean: ), a self-composed duet, which was not featured on the official soundtrack.
“Believe in Love” by Yoo Seung-ho and “Alone in the Room,” from Yoo Seung-third ho’s EP Real, were the first two songs she was given credit for.
“Hold My Hand” for The Greatest Love in 2011 was her first self-composition. IU found the experience challenging since she had to match the upbeat tone of the show’s theme song, which she had written at the request of the show’s producers.
Awards and achievements
After making her debut in 2008, IU has been nominated for more than 200 awards and has won more than 100 of them. Among her many accolades: 18 Melon Music Awards, 16 Gaon Chart Music Awards, 5 Korean Music Awards, 11 Mnet Asian Music Awards, 7 Seoul Music Awards, and 8 Golden Disk Awards; As an actress, she has won multiple honors, including “Best New Actress” at the KBS Drama Awards for her portrayal in You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin.
There have been 10 Daesang awards, commonly known as grand prize awards, given to IU by different award events. The Melon Music Honours and the Golden Disk Awards each gave out five Daesang awards.
The Daesang awards are the most prestigious in the Korean music industry and are given to the best performers. In 2012, Forbes Korea Power Celebrity named IU as one of South Korea’s most influential persons, and he has been mentioned five times since then.
It was also acknowledged at the 2015 Pop Culture & Arts Awards, given by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism for IU’s contribution to the music business.
IU real Name
Her real name is Lee Ji-eun.
Her net worth is US$31-45 million