Childhood & Early Life
Chou Tzu-yu was born on June 14, 1999, in Tainan, Taiwan, to entrepreneur parents. She described her parents as self-made entrepreneurs on many public platforms. She was always interested in the prospect of making a career in performing arts and got enrolled in art classes.
In 2012, she attended the ‘MUSE Performing Arts Workshop’ in Tainan. She was spotted by some talent scouts there. She moved to South Korea later that year, and she spent the next two years of her life training in various aspects of performing arts, such as dancing, acting, and singing.
At the age of 16, she made her TV debut with the South Korean reality show ‘Sixteen’. Her skills were appreciated on the show, and she was immediately included in the newly formed all-girl K-pop group ‘TWICE.’
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Major South Korean company ‘JYP Entertainment’ offered ‘TWICE’ a deal. The group consisted of nine members, all chosen from the reality show ‘Sixteen.’ Within the first few months of its creation, the group released their first project together, an EP titled ‘The Story Begins.’
On October 20, 2015, the day of its release, the group held their first live show, where they performed all the songs from their debut EP. One of the singles from the EP, ‘Like Ooh-Ahh,’ became particularly successful and earned more than five million “views” within the first five months of debuting on ‘YouTube.’ It is also known as one of the most popular K-pop songs of all time.
Following this, the group released their second EP, ‘Page Two,’ in April 2016, with singles such as ‘Cheer Up’ and ‘I’m Gonna Be a Star.’ Within the next few months, the EP sold more than 150 thousand copies, making it the first album by an all-girl K-pop group to sell more than 100 thousand copies that year.
In September, the group decided to increase their fan following. They came up with theme colours for their group: apricot and neon magenta. They named their fan base “Once.” On October 20, celebrating the release of their debut together, the group treated their fans with the release of the single ‘One in a Million.’
In November the same year, their music video for the single ‘Like Ooh-Ahh’ crossed 100 million “views” on YouTube. Thus, ‘TWICE’ became the first-ever K-pop group to earn such a huge number of “views” with their debut single.
In November 2016, ‘TWICE’ uploaded the official music video for their single ‘Cheer Up,’ which became one of the group’s most critically acclaimed singles. The song ended up winning the ‘Mnet Asian Music Award’ and the ‘Melon Music Award’ for the ‘Song of the Year.’
Around the same time, another ‘TWICE’ single, ‘TT,’ earned 100 million “views” on ‘YouTube’ and became the first K-pop song to reach the milestone in such a short span of time. By the end of the year, ‘TT’ crossed 200 million “views,” becoming the first-ever song by a K-pop girl band to achieve the milestone.
The group began 2017 with a tour of South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore. In order to make the most of their increasing popularity in Japan, the group started their Japanese website, along with several other social-media channels. In February, the group announced that they would make their Japanese debut with a compilation album named ‘#Twice.’
The group also announced that their official debut in the Japanese market was to take place in mid-2017. In June, ‘TWICE’ released their debut Japanese single, ‘Signal.’ They also released a short version of its official video. Sometime later, a full Japanese video and audio version of their hit song ‘TT’ was released.
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On June 28, ‘TWICE’ officially released their debut Japanese album, ‘#Twice,’ and held a concert in Tokyo. The album consisted of the Japanese versions of their first five songs. Their first full-fledged Japanese single was titled ‘One More Time.’ The song became an immediate hit and sold well, making ‘TWICE’ the fastest-selling girl K-pop group in Japan.
In October, ‘TWICE’ released their debut studio album, ‘Twicetagram.’ The album topped the ‘Billboard World Albums’ chart.
In February 2018, the group released their second Japanese single, ‘Candy Pop,’ which was yet another success. In April, the group released their next EP, ‘What is Love?’ The lead single from the album was also titled ‘What Is Love?’ and was composed by ace Korean musician Park Jin-young. In May, the group released their third Japanese single, ‘Wake Me Up.’
In September, ‘TWICE’ released their second studio album, ‘BDZ,’ which was also their debut Japanese album. The group released their sixth EP, ‘Yes or Yes,’ in November 2018.
Apart from working full-time with ‘TWICE,’ Chou has also been part of a number of modeling assignments, brand endorsements, music videos, and TV projects.
The Flag Controversy
Chou Tzu-yu was dragged into a major controversy during her appearance on a South Korean show titled ‘My Little Television’ in November 2015. She had apparently held the flag of the Republic of China and introduced herself as a Taiwanese citizen.
Chinese singer Huang An took to social media to accuse Tzu of being a Taiwanese independence activist. Chinese nationalists, too, deluged her with hate comments. Soon, the common people joined in and blamed Chou of using the Chinese population while maintaining a pro-independence stance. Following the issue, Chinese TV channels banned ‘TWICE’ and several Chinese companies terminated their brand-endorsement contracts with Chou.
As a result, Chou had to apologize through a video. However, the damage was already done. ‘JYP Entertainment’ suffered a major loss. The issue gained international attention, as it had reportedly affected the election results in Taiwan.