Lee Hyori

  • I. Introduction

    The Nation's Fairy, The originator of 'sexy' concepts, Lee Hyori is a singer, actress, model, activist, record producer, and television presenter.

    II. Career

    Lee Hyori was born in 1979 in Osong-ri, Cheongwon County, North Chungcheong Province, South Korea, as the youngest of three daughters.

    Her family moved to Seoul with only 500 won (around $0.40 USD) in their hands. The money wasn't enough to support them so her parents had to often borrow money from family members.

    To bring in more income to the household the parents had to open a small barbershop.

    "I didn't even get to go to kindergarten. I wanted to go to kindergarten and learn how to play the piano and have a xylophone, but I was unable to because we had no money. There was a time when I thought with a young heart, 'Why had I been born poor in a house like this?'"

    Life in Seoul was not easy for Hyori as her dad would often beat her out of frustration.


    I used to be scared of my father. He was strict with us when we were young. When he got angry, he would hit me the most.

    Despite her struggles, Hyori dreamt of being a singer. From when she was in middle school, anytime she would walk around on the street, she would receive business cards from entertainment agencies. At the time, her family was against the idea of her becoming a singer so she would pass on their offers.

    After she was suspended from middle school due to violating school rules and entering restricted areas on the school's campus her parents made her get a part-time job at a restaurant.

    Later down the road, however, Hyori was street cast again and that’s when she was able to pursue her dreams.


    The casting director who scouted Fin.K.L.'s Lee Hyori and Sung Yuri, as well as S.E.S' Eugene, revealed the behind-the-scene story of Lee Hyori's casting. The casting director said; Lee Hyori was the first member I scouted while I was looking for S.E.S members. I picked Lee Hyori, who caught my eye out of the H.O.T fans, and brought her to the SM Entertainment office." However, Hyori ultimately did not become an S.E.S member. The director said, "Lee Hyori ran away when we put her in the practice room after saying the company was making a project group." If this did not happen, S.E.S might have become 'L.E.S' instead.

    However, Fin.K.L.'s management representative, who also saw Lee's star quality, cast her for Fin.K.L. and paid for the breached contract even though he knew she had run away.

    Fin.K.L debuted officially on May 22, 1998, with their first single "Blue Rain". The second release from their debut album, 'To My Boyfriend', became the first of their multiple number one hits. Fin.K.L became one of the most popular and successful South Korean pop groups of all time, rivalling fellow popular girl group S.E.S.

    A year after Fin.K.L's fourth studio album 'Forever', Hyori's solo debut album was released in August 2003, entitled 'Stylish'. The lead single "10 Minutes" became one of her signature hits and swept the Daesangs, the most prestigious South Korean music award, winning more than seven of them, including three of the four most prestigious Daesangs.

    After the 2000s when Jang Nara and BoA became the top female soloists for their innocent-cute images, Sexy concepts were dying out, but Hyori's '10 Minutes' signified a re-birth for the concept.

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    Hyori would later venture into TV hosting and became the first-ever female celebrity to excel as both a TV host and a Singer.

    When she was starting out, singers and comedians were disregarded by the Korean General Public but Hyori was the only idol to break out of that stereotype when she became the host of a show called 'Time Machine' in 2002.

    Once she was introduced to 'Time Machine', the ratings skyrocketed from 10% to 20%.

    The word 'Hyori Effect' started to spread and become popular among TV producers and directors because whenever she'd appear, the ratings would soar. Happy Together ended up eyeing Hyori to host alongside Yoo Jaesuk which elevated her fame. Hyori would later win a Daesang for the Best Female Entertainer in 2008 where she became the only female celebrity who won a Daesang for a variety show as an artist.

    She was eventually dubbed the "Hyori Syndrome" in South Korea, and the Korean Media nicknamed 2003 "The Year of Hyori" as she was rarely out of the news.

    And on December 20, 2008, Lee Hyori held her first solo concert, "Lee Hyori the Invincible" at the Jamsil Arena. Upon release, tickets to the concert sold out in under five minutes.

    With her immense popularity, Hyori was offered a number of CFs proposals. Doing 20 CFs in a span of a year! She became the highest-paid celebrity of that year and was offered a whopping $600,000 for each endorsement. Her CF salary was on par with top actresses like Jun Ji Hyun.

    As she was taking the nation by storm with each of her commercials going viral and getting sold out. People in Korea ended up replicating how she talked and how she dressed. Even Entertainment labels created their own version of Lee Hyori debuting artists such as; Chae Yeon, Shin Eun Sung, Chae So Yeon, Jeon Hye Bin and Ivy.

    With this, the word ‘Hyori Syndrome’ would be listed in the Korean dictionary due to how impactful she was.

    Down the line, Hyori reunited with Fin.K.L in a new reality show “Camping Club”. Then on May 15, 2020, Hyori announced that she had signed a contract with ESteem Entertainment. Through MBC's Hangout with Yoo, she, under the stage name Linda G, founded the summer project co-ed trio named SSAK3 with Rain and Yoo Jaesuk. They released a debut single "Beach Again" on July 18, 2020, and officially debuted on July 25 with a debut stage on Music Core. After SSAK3 project ended, Hangout with Yoo programme made a spin-off project for Lee Hyori. She named Uhm Jung-hwa, Jessi and Hwasa as the members she wanted in her dream girl group during the SSAK3 segment.

    The four women formed another girl group named Refund Sisters (환불원정대) with Yoo Jae-suk as a producer. They released a debut single "Don't Touch Me" on October 10, 2020.

    And on October 13, 2021, Hyori became the first woman to host the Mnet Mama Awards. Hyori's career has spanned decades and she has appeared on the Korea Power Celebrity 40 multiple times throughout her career, placing within the top 15 from 2009–to 2011.

    She has been cited as an inspiration or influence by numerous artists, including KARA, Jeon Somi, Chungha, ITZY's Yeji, Jessica Jung, Dalshabet, Nada, Cherry Bullet's Jiwon, Laboum's Solbin, Elris's Sohee, Jung Eun-chae, Jin Se-yeon, and Huh Chan-mi.

    III. Discography

    Album Cover Title Type Date

    Stylish...E Debut Studio Album 2003

    Dark Angel 2nd Studio Album 2006

    It's Hyorish 3rd Studio Album 2008

    H-Logic 4th Studio Album 2010

    Monochrome 5th Studio Album 2013

    Black 6th Studio Album 2017

    IV. Filmography

    Year Network Title Role Notes
    1997 EBS The Generation of Sensibility One of the disorderly students Pre-debut
    2001–03 KBS2 Happy Together Host
    2002–03 MBC Time Machine
    2003 SBS Fort Boyard
    2005 Three Leaf Clover Kang Jin-a
    2006–07 KBS2 Happy Together Friends Host
    2007 SBS If in Love... Like Them Lee Na
    2008 Mnet Off the Record: Lee Hyori Main cast Reality show
    SBS On Air Herself Cameo role (Episode 1)
    KBS2 Sang Sang Plus Host
    SBS Change
    2008–10 Family Outing Main cast
    2009 Mnet Superstar K Judge
    2012 SBS Jung Jae-hyung & Lee Hyo-ri's You and I Host
    OnStyle Golden 12 Herself Reality show
    tvN Reply 1997 Cameo appearance through archive footage (Episode 12)
    2013 Mnet 2HYORI SHOW Comeback special for Monochrome
    OnStyle/Mnet Lee Hyori's X Sister Main cast Reality show
    OnStyle Korea's Next Top Model Special Judge
    EBS Our Sole Earth Herself Featured with Lee Sang-soon (Episode "Instant Wedding")
    2014 SBS Magic Eye Host
    EBS Our Sole Earth Interviewee In the episode "Your Winter Coat, Alpaca and Raccoon"
    2015 SBS Take Care of My Dad Narrator Voice only
    2017 JTBC Hyori's Homestay Main cast Reality show
    2018 Hyori's Homestay 2
    2019 Camping Club
    2020 MBC Hangout with Yoo Regular cast Episode 45 - 56 (SSAK3 (Linda G))
    Episode 57 - 69 (Refund Sisters (Cheon Ok))
    KakaoTV Face ID Host Episode 1 - 7
    2021 Netflix The Hungry and the Hairy Herself Episode 1, 10
    2022 TVING Seoul Check-in Cast


    Year Title Role Notes
    2002 Emergency Act 19 Herself (as a member of Fin.K.L) Cameo
    2012 Dancing Queen Superstar K judge
    2018 The Spy Gone North Herself


    Year Title Network
    2021 2021 Mnet Asian Music Awards Mnet,

    Video Games

    Year Title Role Notes
    2000 Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 Herself South Korean PC version

    V. Videography

    VI. Trivia

    • Hyori is the first female artist to win a #1 music show trophy in 4 decades; 90s, 00s, 10s and 20s.
    • Hyori is a cultural icon.
    • She is helmed as a natural beauty.
    • She was part of H.O.T fanclub.
    • Her H.O.T bias was Tony.
    • She deactivated her Instagram because she rarely posted and apologized to her fans.
    • She is the originator of 'sexy' concepts.
    • The year 2003 was called ‘The Year Of Hyori’ by the South Korean industry as she was rarely out of the spotlight throughout the year.
    • She is a vegetarian.
    • She is an animal rights activist.
    • She had a popular reality show called ‘Hyori’s Bed & Breakfast’ alongside her husband Lee Sang Soon, and IU.
    • Hyori's first dog was sent to a 'Bosintang' restaurant. It means 'nurturing soup' but is understood to mean dog meat soup.

    When I was living with my parents, we always had a dog. There would be mutts from the countryside roaming around. When my parents went to work and my sisters went to school, I would be home alone with the dog. The dog’s name was Mary, but when it got just a little older, my parents sent it to a Bosintang restaurant. It was so shocking to me when I was a child. I still feel so sorry for Mary when I think about how I couldn’t help her at all. That’s why I started going to shelters to help out and adopted Soonshim.”

    • Lee Hyori shared that she felt happiness in her everyday life when her husband makes dinner for her.
    • She is absorbed in making ceramics. She explained, “Using my own hands to make the things I want to express is a special experience. After learning how to make ceramics, I’ve been making [figures of] pets to gift to friends.”
    • As soon as she met her husband, she decided to get married.
    • She wants to have a baby but has infertility troubles.
    • She is fond of her long straight hair and considers it the most precious part of her body.
    • Her favourite colour is white.
    • Her favourite song genre is R&B and ballads.
    • Mariah Carey and Brandy inspired her as an artist.