There’s no doubt IU (born Lee Ji-eun) deservesthe title of “Nation’s Little Sister”, following her hit songs and dramas. As the star turns 29 on the 16th of May, we would love to highlight five things you need to know about her
She loves helping others
Some celebrities love to donate on special occasions and IU is no exception. She doesn’t stop at just donating money but also delivers warm, encouraging messages. In recent times, IU donated US$82,200 to support temporary housing for the victims of the Uljin wildfire which occurred in March. She also donated KR₩200 million; about US$168,560) to ChildFund Korea last year to help cancer patients and children from low-income families.
Her warm leadership influences her fans in positive ways too. In 2020, IU and her fanbase, UAENA, donated about $42,000 each to ChildFund and social welfare firm Walking With Us on IU‘s birthday. It surpassed KR₩40 billion donated by IU.
She went through difficult times
IU’s success was not made overnight. During her appearance on KBS’ Win Win, she opened up about difficult times with her family’s financial issues.
IU described her childhood as “being loved, and family was wealthy enough to support her dream” until she attended elementary school. After her mother acted as a guarantor for someone who couldn’t pay back a heavy loan, IU’s family fell into debt. She moved in with her grandmother in a small single room, who supported her by selling accessories as a street vendor at a nearby market for about a year. IU would then prove to be her family’s salvation. Despite her very young age at the time, she paid back her parents’ full debt only three years after her debut.
Becoming the face or spokesperson of a brand is an exciting time for any young celebrity. Sometimes, the brand’s philosophy defines the artist, while vice-versa the celebrity power of an A-lister influences them in return. With her rising popularity, IU has acted as an ambassador for several brands over the years.
Her classy and contemporary demeanour has drawn the attention of many luxury brands. In 2020, she was chosen to be Gucci’s Korea Ambassador. At the Gucci Garden Archetypes, she appeared as a global ambassador alongside Shin Min-a and Lee Jung-jae.
Her popularity is enormous
IU’s popularity is reflective in the number of social media subscribers and followers that make up her fanbase. In August 2021, Forbes Korea unveiled its list of celebrities with an estimated highest earnings on their YouTube channels. Among the top ten figures, IU was one of two solo singers – the other is Bam Bam from GOT 7 – to be featured. The rest eight celebrities were from K-pop bands.
As of November 2021, she ranked in the top eight with 7.05 million Youtube subscribers, which has grown to 7.55 million this month and has more than 1.59 billion accumulated views on the channel.
IU not only gives 100 per cent in her acting and singing performances but also when it comes to caring about her fans. According to Koreaboo, in 2019, she attended a fan’s graduation ceremony at Gimje Girls’ High School which was a promise she made a year before.
She also loves to spoil her fans with gifts. For example, she once gifted a fan a US$3,000 Audio-Technica microphone, a T-Money transport card with an undisclosed amount of money, and a handwritten letter. She also loves giving small gifts to her fans waiting for her at the airport since 2012; ranging from small candies to bags of goodies bought from airport shops.