If you know K-pop, you know IU. The singer-actress, whose real name is Lee Ji-eun, is one of the most famous stars in South Korea and is often referred to as the “Nation’s Little Sister.” Her rags-to-riches story deserves a movie and she’s an inspiration to numerous K-pop stars, including BTS members, who she’s collaborated with a few times over the years. Keep reading to meet IU, how she rose to fame and who her current boyfriend is.

How Did IU Get Famous?

IU was born on May 16, 1993, in Seoul, South Korea. Growing up, she first expressed interest in acting and took acting classes. However, after she attended elementary school, her family’s financial situation deteriorated. They were forced to move out of the city of Seoul, where IU ended up living with her grandmother, brother and cousin for over one year in conditions of great poverty. IU had little contact with her parents during this time.

“Because my parents both had to work, I had to live with my grandmother away from my parents,” she told the KBS show Win Win in 2015. “In this tiny room, I lived with my grandmother, cousin and brother. It was always cold and we never had enough to eat.”

She eventually found her passion for singing during middle school, which is when she started to audition for South Korean music companies like JYP Entertainment (known for groups TWICE, 2PM and ITZY). IU was rejected from 20 auditions, and was also scammed by a few fake entertainment companies.

The South Korean artist would later sign contract with Leon Entertainment in 2007, where she would debut as a soloist at only 15 years old with the single “Lost Child.”

It wasn’t until she released the legendary single “Good Day” in 2010, when she skyrocketed to fame. Her stardom was cemented after releasing her successful 2011 albums, Real+ and Last Fantasy, where she was labeled by the public as Korea’s “little sister.”

Since then, she has released and written multiple albums, won numerous awards, collaborated with some of the biggest stars in the world (hi, BTS’ Suga and J-Hope) and made a name for herself as an actress.

What Has IU Acted In?

IU is almost as well known for her acting as she is for her singing. She starred in her first Korean drama Dream High in 2011, and later starred in You Are the Best, The Producers, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, My Mister and Hotel Del Luna.

“When I make music, I’m a producer, and I can use music to express and leave behind the thoughts I have in that moment of my life. But acting isn’t about me or my creation,” she told Marie Claire Korea in 2019. “In order to be an actor that can play any role, I think it’s best not to put limits on myself.”

Who Is IU Dating?

IU is currently dating actor Lee Jong Suk, which was announced on New Year’s Day in 2023 by Korean news outlet Dispatch. Following their reports, Lee Jong Suk’s agency HighZium Studio confirmed the news.

“Actor Lee Jong Suk and IU recently progressed from being close acquaintances into being a couple, and they are maintaining a serious relationship,” HighZium Studio shared in a statement at the time. “Please show lots of support so they can continue their beautiful relationship.”

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