9 Feb 2024


Lee Ji-eun, known by her stage name IU (아이유), is a South Korean singer-songwriter, composer, and actress. She began her career as a trainee under LOEN Entertainment (now Kakao Entertainment) in 2007 and debuted as a singer at the age of fifteen with her first extended play (EP) titled "Lost and Found" in 2008. While her initial albums, "Growing Up" and "IU...IM," achieved mainstream success, it was her 2010 album "Real" and its lead single "Good Day" that propelled her to national stardom. "Good Day" spent five consecutive weeks at the top of South Korea's Gaon Digital Chart and was ranked number one on Billboard's "100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s" list in 2019.

IU solidified her position in the music industry with successful albums like "Real+" and "Last Fantasy" in 2011, showcasing her dominance on South Korean music charts. She ventured into songwriting with "Hold My Hand" for the television series "The Greatest Love." As her career progressed, IU's musical style matured, as seen in her third studio album "Modern Times" (2013), which departed from her earlier image and showcased a more mature sound.

Throughout her career, IU has explored various music genres and exerted more creative control over her music. Her fourth studio album, "Palette" (2017), became her first to reach number one on Billboard's World Albums chart. IU continued to diversify her musical style with albums like "Love Poem" and "Lilac," which explored different genres while maintaining her dominance on South Korean music charts.

In addition to her music career, IU has made significant strides in acting, starring in various television drama series such as "You Are the Best!" (2013), "The Producers" (2015), and "My Mister" (2018), earning critical acclaim for her performances. She has also hosted radio and television shows and ventured into film, starring in works like Hirokazu Kore-eda's "Broker" (2022).

IU has released five studio albums and nine EPs, with many of her singles reaching number one on the Gaon Album Chart. She holds the record for the most number-one songs in South Korea and has become one of the best-selling solo acts in the K-pop industry. IU's achievements include being the first solo female K-pop act to perform at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena and holding a solo concert at the Seoul Olympic Stadium. She has been recognized by Forbes magazine and Billboard for her contributions to the music industry and has received numerous awards and nominations for her work in music and acting.

IU, born Lee Ji-eun on May 16, 1993, in Songjeong-dong, Seoul, South Korea, hails from the Jeonju Yi clan, the same clan as the former Korean monarchy. From an early age, IU displayed a keen interest in the entertainment industry and began attending acting classes during her elementary school years. However, her family's financial difficulties led them to move to Uijeongbu, in Gyeonggi Province, where IU and her younger brother lived with their grandmother and cousin in impoverished conditions for over a year, with little contact with their parents.

During her middle school years, IU discovered her passion for singing after receiving praise for a performance at her school's sports competition. Despite facing numerous setbacks, including failed auditions and scams by fake entertainment companies, IU persisted in her pursuit of a singing career. She eventually trained at Good Entertainment alongside other future K-pop stars.

In 2007, IU signed with LOEN Entertainment and moved to Bangbae, Seoul. Despite her challenging living conditions at the time, IU found solace in the studio environment, where she had access to food and shelter. Her commitment to her career led to decreased attendance at school and declining grades, except in Korean literature. After graduating from Dongduk Girls' High School in 2012, IU opted not to pursue higher education, choosing to focus solely on her singing career.

After training for ten months, IU made her debut in 2008 under her stage name, conceived by LOEN to signify the unity of "I and You" through music. She performed her debut single, "Lost Child" (Korean: 미아), live for the first time on the music program M Countdown on September 18, 2008, marking her professional debut as a singer. Despite facing insults from the crowd during her performance, IU considers the experience beneficial.

"Lost Child" served as the lead single from her debut extended play (EP) Lost and Found, released on September 24, 2008. Although IU received the "Rookie of the Month" award from South Korea's Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in November of the same year, the album did not perform well commercially. Reflecting on her debut album's lack of success, IU expressed gratitude for the experience, stating that failure allowed her to appreciate her staff and current popularity.

In April 2009, IU released her first studio album, Growing Up, featuring the lead promotional single, "Boo". The song marked a stark contrast in musical style to "Lost Child", adopting a 1980s retro sound. IU's transformation into a more youthful and cute image was strategically emphasized through dance choreography, stage costumes, and hairstyle, despite the artist feeling initially awkward about it. "Boo" garnered a favorable response from the public.
Following the release of Growing Up, IU released her second EP, IU...IM, towards the end of 2009. The lead single, "Marshmallow" (마쉬멜로우), was promoted starting November 13, 2009. Despite discomfort with the girlish costumes and hairstyles, IU's performances received positive feedback, with many labeling them as "cute".

As IU's popularity grew, she made frequent appearances on variety shows and began hosting music chart shows on Gom TV. Additionally, she became a fixed guest on various radio programs, showcasing her talent through acoustic covers of popular songs by artists such as Girls' Generation, Super Junior, and Big Bang. These appearances further solidified IU's status as a rising star in the Korean entertainment industry.


  1.  ""열애설 생길만하네" 아이유의 여자 연예인 '1위' 재산 수준"GY News (in Korean). October 30, 2022. Retrieved November 25, 2022.
  2. a b Billboard Staff (November 25, 2019). "The 100 Greatest K-Pop Songs of the 2010s: Staff List"BillboardArchived from the original on June 3, 2020. Retrieved November 26, 2019.
  3. a b c Benjamin, Jeff (September 17, 2012). "IU: 21 Under 21 (2012)"BillboardArchived from the original on June 5, 2013. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  4. a b c Oak, Jessica (October 9, 2013). "IU Exudes Maturity on New LP 'Modern Times'"BillboardArchived from the original on October 10, 2013. Retrieved January 2, 2016.
  5. a b "The 25 Greatest K-Pop Albums of the 2010s: Staff List"Billboard. December 17, 2019. Archived from the original on December 21, 2019. Retrieved December 29, 2019.
  6. a b Benjamin, Jeff (October 26, 2015). "IU Details the Toils of Being 'Twenty-Three' in Most Personal Single Yet"BillboardArchived from the original on October 28, 2015. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  7. ^ Sohn, Ji-young (May 16, 2014). "IU sweeps charts with covers album"The Korea Herald. Seoul. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 10, 2015.

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