Former K-pop girl band Iz*One member, Choi Yena, is well-known for her dance talent. As the now solo artist is turning 23 on September 23, here are five things you should know about her
She loves playing games
Choi Yena is an avid VR gamer. During her appearance on a Korean reality TV programme, DNA Mate, she showed her daily life by starting and ending her day by playing her favourite VR game.
Choi’s time playing VR games was also reflected in the preparation of her new mini-album Smartphone. In her comeback interview, Choi said that she “melted her thoughts and feelings of a girl falling in love in a new world – or the VR world – to the lyrics of a new song.”
She is a fan of Apink’s Bomi
Choi is a longtime fan of Yoon Bomi, the lead vocalist of Korea’s second-generation K-Pop girl group Apink. Her admiration toward Apink’s Yoon was first revealed in Choi’s Produce 48 self-introduction, where she sang Apink’s song “Secret”.
Choi’s all-time dream of collaborating with Apink’s Yoon came true when the young singer joined Apink Yoon’s leading TV programme TMI News. Choi is considered a seong-deok – a Korean terminology explaining a long-time fan meeting their idols closely.
Choi Yena is not the first K-Pop star in her family. Her brother Choi Sungmin was a member of former K-Pop idol groups Coed School (disbanded in 2010) and SPEED (disbanded in 2015).
Choi’s strong brother-sister relationship was first revealed in a Korean reality TV show DNA Mate. Her brother acted as Choi’s daily manager before she made a comeback for the mini album Smartphone. The singer expressed her gratitude by saying, “My brother is also my best supporter who always gives creative ideas and points to my success. Some choreography ideas from my song “Smiley” are also from him.”
Overcoming health issues
Choi Yena described her debut as a miracle as she shared her near-death experience of undergoing child cell-lymphoma cancer in her childhood years. The cancer was serious to the degree where the doctor told her parents to give up on recovery.
Once on the Iz*One reality TV show, she revealed how her parents sold gimbap – a Korean rice roll – to earn surgery fees for her cancer cure. After this revelation, her fan club, jigumi donated US$6,502 to Korea’s Leukemia and Pediatric Cancer Association to celebrate her birthday.
Choi often breaks stereotypes and here is where the star shows her extraordinary talent in other areas beyond singing. She is known for her dance compositions in every music genre.
Her talent in choreography directly responds to her high school degree in contemporary dance. In Produce 48, Choi’s flexible waacking (a form of dance that originated in gay clubs of the 1970s in California with African American and Latinx roots) performance amazed both the judge panels and fans. This led to her debut as a member of the K-girl group Iz*One. This success of this form of dance followed her in her first solo debut album Smiley, which was applauded for its memorable ‘smiley’ dance, which went viral on various social media.