First impressions are important in K-pop. All the members of girl group Twice have captivated K-pop fans and the Korean general public since their debut single Like Ooh Ahh in 2015, but band member Jeongyeon stood out visually early on with her shorter hairstyle.
Audiences quickly learned that the starlet has much more to offer than cool haircuts. She is now known as one of the scene's most affectionate and sensitive individuals.
That strong sense of care was instilled in Jeongyeon from a young age and continues as Twice go from strength to strength.
Here's everything you need to know about Jeongyeon's life so far.
Her early life
Yoo Kyung-wan was born in Suwon, the capital city of South Korea's populous Gyeonggi province, in November 1996. With two working parents " including a father who was a private chef to former South Korean president Kim Dae-jung " Jeongyeon and her two older sisters were raised largely by their grandmother.
Jeongyeon discovered a love for music and dance thanks to aerobics classes taken as a child. The future star would perform "talent shows" for her grandmother who supported her granddaughter's dream to one day become a singer.
After failing to pass an audition with K-pop super label JYP Entertainment as a child, Jeongyeon again sought fame by auditioning for JYP and SM Entertainment in 2010.
She passed auditions for both, but chose JYP, spending five years polishing her skills and even making an appearance in a music video from label mate Got7.
Jeongyeon was rumoured to be part of a six-member girl group under JYP, called 6Mix, along with future Twice bandmates Jihyo, Nayeon and Sana, but plans for the group were ended when some members lined up to be in the group left the company.
The change of plans nearly pushed Jeongyeon to a new career in baking, but instead, JYP entered her in the singing reality show Sixteen that put 16 young K-pop trainees with the label in a competition to be selected for a new group called Twice. With high marks throughout the show, Jeongyeon easily earned a place.
Her role in Twice
Jeongyeon is the lead vocalist of Twice and sometimes handles choruses.
A burgeoning lyricist, she has also become involved in composing Twice's music. She is the sole songwriter of fan-favourite tracks such as Love Line off the group's full-length album Twicetagram, as well as LaLaLa on the Yes or Yes EP, and worked with member Chaeyoung on Sweet Talker from the What Is Love? album.
Among all the bandmates, Jeongyeon is considered the "mother" in Twice. She expresses concern if a member gets injured and notices little things such as if someone is dancing too close to the edge of the stage. She is also the one who keeps Twice's living spaces clean and calls team meetings if there's any trouble.
On her debut, Jeongyeon quickly stood out visually for pulling off a short hairstyle. When she began growing out her hair, she wondered if changing her signature style would upset fans.
Jeongyeon's tomboy image helped Twice retain a high number of both male and female fans, but any perceived toughness or iciness from her strong visuals are quickly mellowed by her affectionate and humorous sides that come out on television.
Her affectionate side also transfers to how she interacts with fans. Supporters know her to spend extra time with fans at events and she frequently encourages fans to say their names so she can remember.
Quickly after Twice's debut, Jeongyeon secured solo work in large part thanks to the interest in her and her actress sister, Gong Seung-yeon. They took a trip together for the South Korean variety show We Are Siblings and were MCs on the weekly K-pop music programme Inkigayo that earned them a Newcomer Award at the 2016 SBS Entertainment Awards.
The sisters also teamed up for a song together, singing Like a Star for the soundtrack to the short film My Dream Class that co-starred Seung-yeon.
Jeongyeon also quickly became known for her TV appearances as a member of unique reality shows including the fitness competition Muscle Queen Project, and Law of the Jungle that transplants celebrities into the wild.
In her own words
From her family's support to the early dreams her grandmother instilled in her as well as her own motherly instincts, Jeongyeon has made it clear how important family is to her.
"My grandmother really wanted to see me become a singer, but she passed away before I became one," the star said through tears during the Twice: Seize the Light documentary from YouTube Originals. "I feel sorry about that."
That down-to-earth mindset also transfers to Jeongyeon's personal feelings about herself.
"My appearance when I show up at the salon after washing my hair and going to bed the night before is my true self," she told Marie Claire magazine. "My appearance with dishevelled hair and no make-up is the real me."
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
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