It was only two months ago that we reported on Lee Hyori’s engagement, but the planned September wedding has quickly come. On September 1, 2013, she married composer/musician Lee Sang-soon, boyfriend of three years, in a ceremony on Jeju Island.
Despite releasing the video of Lee Sang-soon’s proposal online , Lee Hyori enjoyed a private ceremony: a small number of invitees were present among strict security detail, guaranteeing no disturbances on her special day to spend with family and friends.
To give fans a little taste of the day, she did release a series of wedding photos.
Seeing Hyori offstage and living daily life is a refreshing sight. These pictures show her happy and bubbly on her wedding day, dressed elegantly but also sweetly, adorned with flowers, riding a bike, playing with her dog.
For a woman that commands so much attention onstage, her offstage persona is quieter but still has the frankness that fans have come to expect from the K-pop star.
Lee Hyori has been in the music industry for 15 years, getting her start in four-member girl group fin.K.L, which debuted in 1998. That’s eons ago for many fans today, but fin.K.L was wildly successful and served as one of the main girl groups leading us into the era in which the Wonder Girls and Girls’ Generation would reign supreme.
But who, exactly, is K-pop’s Lee Hyori then?
The group focused on pop with twinges of R&B on their ballad songs. They had many hits over their career, including both upbeat pop hits like “Forever Love” as well as slower love songs like “To My Prince.”
But after five years with her group, Hyori released an album titled Stylish, and her popularity skyrocketed with the lead single “10 Minutes,” which showcased her own style as a solo artist, taking her sexy image up another notch. She gave off a sexy yet cool image that attracted a lot of attention, and awards as well.
From here, Hyori only added to her fame: acting in dramas, doing advertisements, and continuing to release music – her second album Dark Angel was released in 2006 and her third, It’s Hyorish, was released two years later, well known for the now-iconic single (and karaoke staple) “U Go Girl.” In between these efforts, she also started hosting television shows, including the popular variety show Happy Together with Yoo Jae-suk.
It is after this period that Lee Hyori chose to grow more experimental. She actively participated in the production of her 2008 album H-Logic. However, she took a public hit when seven of the album’s 14 tracks were accused of plagiarism.
Despite yielding a hit with “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” Hyori quickly went on hiatus, setting aside her music and television obligations.
Instead, she presented herself as an activist, gaining presence in animal rights campaigns and growing surprisingly vocal about the challenges of being a singer and a woman in the industry.
By the time that she released her latest album, Monochrome, in May of this year, Hyori had already cultivated her 15-year legend in the music industry and also transcended it by being both a part of popular culture as well as a critic of it.
Perhaps this is why Monochrome took a more mature, sophisticated turn. The first single “Miss Korea” showed an elegant and confident Lee Hyori, not attempting to deceive anyone about her age and instead playing it up with a classic, jazzy vibe.
She released a wide array of singles showcasing different sides of herself: “Bad Girls” played to her penchant for quirky music videos over catchy pop music; “Amor Mio” played up the “Miss Korea” image with a showy ballad featuring Park Ji-young of Honey G; and, “Going Crazy” showed Hyori playing with her own image, dressing up as a man.
While not as successful as her previous ventures, Monochrome in itself appeared to be a personal project for Hyori – making amends for the fumbles of her last album and continuing to present herself as a chameleon capable of taking on different styles and images, while still being mindful of her age in an industry where most converge around their early 20s.
Even now, she continues to impact the future generation with her partnership with labelmate group SPICA. Serving as their producer and mentor, Hyori guides them in the reality show Lee Hyori X Unni.
While controversial at times, having her talent and authenticity questioned (especially in regards to her live-singing capabilities), her impact on the industry is undeniable, as a part of fin.K.l and as an artist and activist in her own right.
The show gave Hyori an opportunity to not only show a nurturing side as their advocate and guide, but also to give her perspective on what it takes to be successful in the industry – finding a specific style and standing out among the numerous other groups.
With all of the talks of cementing her legend, even winning the title 20s #1 Icon at MNet 20s Choice Awards, it’s hard to not wonder if she’ll take an extended break now that’s she’s married. Hyori has certainly earned it.
She’s also done this while being vocal about overcoming the pressures of media and societal expectations.
With 15 years of hindsight behind her, Hyori admitted, “Even if I can’t reach the criteria of success measured and necessitated by society, even if I’m weeded out, I’m beautiful the way I am. I’m pretty, I’m perfectly fine without having to think about other people’s opinions and stereotype.”
And with that attitude, Lee Hyori carved out her own place in the K-pop industry.
Congratulations to the new bride! Readers, what are your thoughts on Lee Hyori’s career and/or her recent wedding?[(B2M Entertainment, DSP Entertainment, MNet Media, Newsen, TenAsia, The Korea Times, YouTube )