Artiste Spotlight: IU

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Born: Lee Ji Eun
Profession: Actor, Singer
Birth Date: 16 May 1993 (Taurus) at Busan, South Korea
Vital Stats: 162 cm (Height), 44 kg (Weight), A (Blood Type)
Talent Agency: Kakao M

It is hard to imagine the K-pop world without IU.

The singer-songwriter, whose real name is Lee Ji Eun, first stole the limelight at the age of 15 with her debut album Lost and Found. She developed a passion for singing after a particularly successful performance in middle school and auditioned for several entertainment companies in the hope of becoming a singer. She received more than 20 rejections before entering LOEN Entertainment (now known as Kakao M) in 2007 as a trainee.

And things were not always easy when IU was growing up. After suffering a financial setback, her family moved to Gyeonggi Province, where the young IU shared a room with her grandmother, brother and cousin. She often spoke fondly of her grandmother – calling her the stabilising force in her humble upbringing.

Despite a lukewarm response for her first record, the "Nation's Little Sister" dropped chart-topping albums Last Fantasy and Modern Times in 2011 and 2013, cementing her position as one of the most recognisable names in the industry.

Like many K-pop idols, IU went on to make the leap from singer to actor. She portrayed a shy and likeable student in the coming-of-age drama Dream High, and the popularity of the show gave the public an opportunity to see her as more than just a pop sensation. IU has since broadened her repertoire with memorable performances – a 21st century lady who fell in love with a Goryeo prince in Scarlet Heart and a woman battling poverty in My Mister – officially making her a double threat.

As IU started out in the industry at a young age, she had to learn to handle all the trappings that came with it. She usually keeps everything positive – choosing to use her music as a creative outlet for her thoughts and emotions. Besides her music, IU's 7 million Instagram followers are offered glimpses of her private life, through candid backstage and childhood images and videos. And perhaps, this is exactly what makes her unique: she is the relatable girl-next-door who is not afraid to be herself.