Kim Yu-jin (born April 9, 1988),[1] better known by her stage name Uee (sometimes romanized as U-ie), is a South Korean singer and actress. She is best known for being a former member of South Korean girl group After School from 2009 to 2017, and has acted in various television dramas including Queen Seondeok (2009), Ojakgyo Family (2011), Jeon Woo-chi (2012), Golden Rainbow (2013), High Society (2015), Marriage Contract (2016), and My Only One (2018). On May 31, 2017, Uee graduated and left After School and its agency, Pledis Entertainment.

Uee in March 2018
Kim Yu-jin

(1988-04-09) April 9, 1988 (age 36)
Daejeon, South Korea
Alma materSungkyunkwan University
  • Singer
  • actress
Years active2009–present
AgentLucky Company
Musical career
Years active2007–present
Formerly of
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Yu-jin
McCune–ReischauerKim Yuchin
Stage name
Revised RomanizationYui

Early life edit

Kim Yu-jin was born April 9, 1988, in Daejeon, South Korea. Her father, Kim Sung-kap, is a retired professional baseball player and former head coach for the South Korean teams, Nexen Heroes[2][3] and SK Wyverns.[4] She has an older sister, Kim Yu-na.[5] Uee attended Guwol Girls' Middle School and Incheon Physical Education High School. While in high school, she was a swimmer and competed in the Korean National Sports Festival.[6] She later graduated from Sungkyunkwan University's School of Art, with a degree in Performing Arts.

Career edit

2007–2008: Five Girls and career beginnings edit

Uee originally desired to be an actress and went to many auditions, but she debuted as a singer first.[7] In 2007, Uee was a member of the girl group Five Girls (Korean오소녀; RRO Sonyeo) under Good Entertainment, which also included Yubin, Jun Hyoseong, Yang Jiwon, and G.NA. The group starred in a reality show on MTV called Diary of Five Girls, but disbanded before their scheduled debut due to Good Entertainment's financial troubles.[8]

Before debuting, she was once a hot topic in South Korea. On May 30, 2008, while watching her father's baseball game in Mok-dong Stadium, she was caught by the camera. The announcer introduced her as the daughter of Coach Kim Sung-kap. The name 'Mok-dong Girl' became number 1 in internet search terms.[9]

In August 2008, after appearing as Yubin's friend in the MBC show Introducing the Star's Friend, she again became popular because of her friendship with the Wonder Girls member and her resemblance to Moon Geun-young.[10] She later joined Pledis Entertainment.

2009–2016: After School and acting career edit

In April 2009, Uee joined the girl group After School with their single "Diva".[11][12] She became known for her "honey thighs" and proved popular with the general public, often topping online search rankings on various Korean websites.[13][14]

In July, she made her acting debut in MBC's historical drama, Queen Seondeok, which was well received and won various awards.[15] She was subsequently cast in SBS's musical drama You're Beautiful, which started airing in October.[16] Later that month, she joined the project group, 4Tomorrow, which consists Han Seung-yeon, Hyuna, and Gain; and released the single "Dugeundugeun Tomorrow" (Korean두근두근 Tomorrow) on October 6, 2009.[17] That same year, she joined the MBC's reality show We Got Married and was paired with Park Jae-jung.[18] Uee ranked eighth on Forbes Korea's list of most hardworking idols in 2009–2010.[19]

Uee had lead roles in two television dramas in 2011. In Birdie Buddy, she played a country girl who strives to become a professional golfer.[20] The drama's director, Yun Sang-ho, praised Uee's "flawless acting", saying, "I believe actors from idol groups such as Uee and Luna improve more quickly because they have so much talent and passion".[21] In Ojakgyo Family, Uee played a university student with a difficult family history.[7] She earned praise for her natural acting and received Best New Actress awards at the Paeksang Arts Awards and KBS Drama Awards.[22][23] Uee released her first solo single, "Sok Sok Sok" (쏙쏙쏙), on June 21, 2011.[24] She also co-hosted the variety show Night After Night.[25]

Uee performing as part of After School in 2012

In January 2012, Uee became a permanent host on the KBS music show, Music Bank, along with Lee Jang-woo. She continued hosting the show until April 2013.[26] From November 2012 to February 2013, she starred as princess Hong Mu-yeon in Jeon Woo-chi, a historical drama set during the Joseon Dynasty. When she was cast for the role, Uee expressed her desire to be seen as a serious actor, saying "I want to do away with the 'idol singer-turned-actor' in this piece and really step up my performance".[27] During the shoot, she was praised for her ability to immerse herself in the character and give a detailed performance.[28][29]

Uee was a permanent cast member of SBS' survival variety show Barefooted Friends in 2013.[30] During the show, she performed the song "Hero" at a special concert. The song was produced by Duble Sidekick and co-written by Uee, and subsequently released on the soundtrack album My Story, My Song on August 19.[31][32] She had a lead role in the drama Golden Rainbow,[33] and received an Excellence Award at the 2013 MBC Drama Awards for the role.[34]

In mid-2014, Uee was a member of the survival variety show Law of the Jungle, appearing in the Indian Ocean episodes.[30][35] In April of that year, she told Ilgan Sports she had lost some of her passion for singing and dancing, and plans to further her acting career once she graduates from After School.[36]

In early 2015, Uee starred in tvN's romantic comedy Hogu's Love, playing a national swimming champion.[37] She was then cast in the SBS drama High Society, playing a rich heiress who hides her identity in order to find true love.[38][39][40] In an interview, Uee acknowledged that some viewers were disappointed with her performance, and she had "never been more criticized for poor acting".[41] In October 2015, Uee joined the variety show, Fists of Shaolin Temple, where the cast members received martial arts training.[42]

Uee's next drama, MBC's Marriage Contract, began airing on March 5, 2016. She played single mother with a terminal illness who enters into a contract marriage.[43][44] In November, Uee starred in the MBC drama Night Light where she plays a poor woman who turns her life around with an opportunity.[45]

2017–present: Focus on acting and other works edit

Uee's contract with Pledis Entertainment ended on May 31, 2017, therefore she graduated from After School. In June 2017, she signed with new management agency Yuleum Entertainment.[46] She then starred alongside Kim Jae-joong in KBS's fantasy romance-comedy drama Manhole.[47][48] In 2018, Uee starred in the weekend dramas My Contracted Husband, Mr. Oh together with Kim Kang-woo;[49][50] and My Only One.[51]

In July 2019, it was confirmed that Uee signed an exclusive contract with King Entertainment.[52][53] She was later picked as part of the cast for Cabin Crew Season 2 in 2019. The show features four celebrities challenging to experience the real work of flight attendants, from job interview to training. Season 2 ended early 2020.[54]

On June 12, 2020, Uee appeared as guest on the Korean variety show I Live Alone. The show features single celebrities and their everyday lives, both in and out of their homes.[55][56] At the same month, she also appeared as a guest in the show Dogs Are Incredible along with her dog, Mango. On August 1, she also appeared on another variety show Omniscient Interfering View along with her manager.[57][58] The show observes the lives of celebrities and their managers. Uee also played as Han Ji-won in the 7th episode of SF8 titled Love Virtually alongside Choi Si-won.[59] The episode was aired on September 25, 2020. After her love for spicy foods was shown her recent I Live Alone appearance, she was selected as the official endorser for Samyang Food's 'Fire Chicken Sauce' Series.[60]

On October 23, 2020, Uee hosted the 2020 Live in DMZ Concert along with Super Junior's Leeteuk. The concert was held in Gyeonggi-do to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the September 2018 Pyongyang Joint Declaration. The concert was broadcast on October 24 via MBC.[61][62]

Uee currently hosts Glance TV's Last Fit with U-ie, a fitness program showcasing beginner to advanced exercises that can be done at home while under quarantine. The first broadcast started in August via Naver TV.[63]

On February 8, 2021, it was reported that Uee had cut ties with King Entertainment.[64] Following the report, the agency confirmed that their exclusive contract with the actress has expired.[65][66] On March 29, 2021, it was announced that she had signed an exclusive contract with Lucky Company.[67][68] On June 3, it was announced that Uee will star in the variety program called Spicy Girls along with Sunny, Kim Shin-young, and Choi Yoo-jung.[69] In the same month, it was also reported that she will star in the upcoming drama Ghost Doctor alongside Rain and Kim Bum.[70][71] The drama premiered in January 2022.

Personal life edit

In 2016, it was confirmed by Uee's representatives that she was dating fellow actor Lee Sang-yoon.[72][73] The couple broke up after a year of dating.[74][75]

In July 2017, Uee confirmed that she was dating Law of the Jungle co-star Kangnam.[76][77] This confirmation came after Korean website Dispatch released photos of them on a date in Apgujeong.[78] Uee initially denied the rumors. After 3 months of dating, the couple announced that they had split up.[79][80]

Uee has been a target of hate and criticism since her debut, in particular with her weight and an alleged sponsorship she received from a large company.[81] In 2018, her agency Yuleum Entertainment announced that they will take legal measures against the malicious and defamatory comments towards their talent.[82]

During her I Live Alone appearance, she revealed that rumors surrounding her weight caused her a lot of stress, leading her to eat only one meal a day for eight years.[83][84] Since then she began to focus more on her health while getting back on track with her career.

Philanthropy edit

On April 8, 2022, Uee donated ₩20 million to international relief and development NGOs to fund hygiene products, such as sanity wear kits and sanitary pants coupons, alongside a monthly information brochure for 120 youths entering young women's homes across the country.[85]

Discography edit

Singles edit

Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Sok Sok Sok"
(featuring JR of NU'EST)
2011 64 Non-album single
(featuring Kim Jungah)
2013 Barefooted Friends: My Story, My Song
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that region.

Filmography edit

Television series edit

Year Title Role Note
2009 Queen Seondeok young Mishil
You're Beautiful Yoo He-yi
2010 My Girlfriend is a Gumiho Art major in college cameo (Episode 5)[87]
2011 All My Love Kim Yu-jin cameo (Episode 182&210)[88]
Birdie Buddy Sung Mi-soo
Ojakgyo Family Baek Ja-eun
2012 Jeon Woo-chi Princess Hong Mu-yeon
2013 Golden Rainbow Kim Baek-won
2015 Hogu's Love Do Do-hee
High Society Jang Yoon-ha
She Was Pretty Guest for The Most 20th Anniversary cameo (Episode 9)
2016 Marriage Contract Kang Hye-soo
Night Light Lee Se-jin
2017 Manhole Kang Soo-jin
2018 My Contracted Husband, Mr. Oh Han Seung-joo
My Only One Kim Do-ran
2020 SF8 Han Ji-won Episode: "Love Virtually"
2022 Ghost Doctor Jang Se-jin [89]
2023-2024 Live Your Own Life Lee Hyo-sim [90]

Variety show edit

Year Title Role Note
2009 We Got Married Season 2 Cast member
2010 Night After Night Co-host
2011-2012 Music Bank
2013 Barefooted Friends Cast member
2014 Law of the Jungle in Indian Ocean Episodes 117 – 125
2015 Fists of Shaolin Temple
2017 Law of the Jungle in New Zealand Episodes 265 – 270[91]
2019 Cabin Crew Season 2 Cast member
2021 Spicy Girls [92]
2022 Kilimanjaro with Yoon Eun-hye, Hyo-jeong, and Son Ho-jun[93]

Awards and nominations edit

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2009 MBC Entertainment Awards Best Newcomer – Female (Variety Show) We Got Married Won [94]
2011 2nd Barbie & Ken Awards Barbie of the Year Won
KBS Drama Awards Best New Actress Ojakgyo Family Won [95]
Best Couple Award with Joo Won Nominated
2012 48th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (TV) Won [96]
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama Jeon Woo-chi Nominated
Netizen Award, Actress Nominated
Best Couple Award with Cha Tae-hyun Nominated
2013 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Project Drama Golden Rainbow Won [97]
2015 8th Korea Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress High Society Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
SBS Entertainment Awards Best Teamwork Award Fists of Shaolin Temple Won
2016 5th APAN Star Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Marriage Contract Nominated
1st Asia Artist Awards Best Celebrity Award, Actress Nominated
29th Grimae Awards Best Actress Won [98]
MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Project Drama Won
Best Couple Award with Lee Seo-jin Nominated
2018 11th Korea Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress My Contracted Husband, Mr. Oh Nominated [99]
6th APAN Star Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama Nominated [100]
23rd KCA Consumer Day Awards Best Drama Actor My Only One Won [101]
MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Weekend Special Project My Contracted Husband, Mr. Oh Nominated
Selfish Motive Award – Organic Parody Award with Kim Kang-woo Won
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama My Only One Won [102]
Netizen Award, Actress Nominated
Best Couple Award with Lee Jang-woo Won
2023 9th APAN Star Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama Live Your Own Life Nominated [103]
KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Won [104]
Popularity Award, Actress Won
Best Couple Award with Ha Jun Won
Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama Nominated [105]

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