IU has released four studio albums and nine extended plays, scoring three number-one albums and eighteen number-one singles on the Gaon Music Charts. As one of the best-selling solo artists in the K-pop industry, which is dominated by boy and girl groups, she has been included on Forbes magazine’s annual Korea Power Celebrity list since 2012, reaching a peak ranking of number three in 2012. Billboard recognized IU as the all-time leader of its Korea K-Pop Hot 100 chart with the most number-one songs and the artist-
who has held the number-one position for the most number of weeks. Aside from her music career, IU has also ventured into hosting radio and television shows, as well as acting.
Following her supporting role in teen drama Dream High and minor appearances in several television series, IU starred in You’re the Best, Lee Soon-shin, Pretty Man, The Producers and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo.
IU was born Lee Ji-eun on May 16, 1993 in Gwangjin District, Seoul, South Korea. At an early age,
IU became interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry and began attending acting classes. Soon after her elementary school years, her family’s financial situation deteriorated, and they eventually moved to Uijeongbu. She and her younger brother lived apart from their parents in a studio room with her grandmother and cousins for over a year in conditions of great poverty. IU had little contact with her parents over this period of time but felt reassured under her grandmother’s care. During her middle school years, IU found her passion for singing and decided to become a singer after being applauded for a performance.
She gave at her school’s sports competition. She attended 20 auditions but failed all of them, and was also scammed by fake entertainment companies. Before joining LOEN Entertainment in 2007, IU trained at Good Entertainment with Uee, Yubin, Heo Ga-yoon, and Jun Hyoseong. After signing with LOEN, IU moved to Bangbae, Seoul.
Despite thinking that she might eventually be put into a girl group after three to four years of training,
she received ten months of training before her solo debut in 2008.
Due to her living conditions at the time, IU stated that she “loved being at the studio”,
where she could eat as much as she wanted and had a place to sleep.
Prior to her debut, LOEN coined her stage name “IU”, deriving it from the phrase
“I and You” to symbolize the unifying force of music between people.
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