Childhood & Early Life
Taemin was born on July 18, 1993, in Seoul, South Korea. Little is known about his family. He has an older brother named Lee Taesun. There are rumours about his father being a history teacher but that has not been proven true.
Out of all the members of Shinee, Taemin’s family was reportedly the least well-off. He did not have an MP3 player as a child and used to walk around with a set of headphones with the connector tucked into his pocket and not plugged into anything.
In the early years of his life, he had aspirations of becoming a pilot. He then became interested in dancing and was inspired by Michael Jackson. His parents recognized his talents and urged him to audition during the 2005 SM Open Weekend Audition Casting. He did and was subsequently selected.
Taemin initially attended Chungdam High School, in Seoul, but later dropped out and enrolled at Hanlim Multi Art School as it was better suited for the hectic schedule he had to maintain for Shinee's Japanese advancement, graduating in February 2012. However, he could not attend the graduation ceremony due to group activities. At present, he is studying musical and film at Myongji University.
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In 2008, the K-pop group Shinee was formed with Taemin, Onew, Key, Minho, and Jonghyun by SM Entertainment, who marketed the group as a contemporary R&B boy band. They made their debut in May 2008 with the EP ‘Replay’. About five months later, in August 2018, they released their first studio album, ‘The Shinee World’.
In 2009, the group put out two EPs, ‘Romeo’ and ‘2009, Year of Us’. They then released their second studio album, ‘Lucifer’, which topped the Korean music chart and sold over 250 thousand units in Korea and 30 thousand units in Taiwan.
On December 26, 2010, the group embarked on their inaugural concert tour, Shinee World. This eventually led to their performance at the Olympic Gymnastics Arena in Seoul on January 1, 2011.
Shinee subsequently went on a Japan tour and took part in the Japan leg of SMTown Live '10 World Tour in Tokyo. On 19 June 2011, Shinee became the first Asian group in history to entertain an audience at Abbey Road Studios in London.
On June 22, 2011, the group released the Japanese version of ‘Replay’, making their debut in the Japanese music scene. It was a massive success, having sold over 100 thousand copies. The group’s first Japanese album was ‘The First’, which was released in December 2011.
In March 2012, the group released their fourth EP, titled ‘Sherlock,’ and in June 2013, their second Japanese album ‘Boys Meet U’. The latter was their first album to be released through Universal Music Japan. That year, they also put out their third Korean album, ‘The Misconception Series’, which was accompanied by their first compilation album, ‘The Misconceptions of Us’, released in August 2013.
Since then, Shinee has put out three more Korean albums, ‘Odd’ (2015), ‘1 of 1’ (2016), and ‘The Story of Light’ (2018); three more Japanese albums, ‘I’m Your Boy’ (2014), DxDxD’ (2016), and ‘Five’ (2017); one more compilation album, ‘Shinee The Best From Now On’ (2018); and one EP, ‘Everybody’ (2013). Between 2012 and 2016, they have put out four live concert albums.
Among the awards they have won as a group, there are 13 Golden Disk Awards, 11 Seoul Music Awards, and four Melon Music Awards. The group has received two Korean Popular Culture and Arts Awards: the Minister of Culture Award in 2012 and the Prime Minister Award in 2016.
Taemin’s bandmate Jonghyun had been battling depression for a while. On December 18, 2017, after receiving an initial call from his older sister, the authorities went to his apartment and found him unconscious. He was subsequently taken to the Konkuk University Hospital in a state of cardiac arrest.
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Despite the immediate CPR treatment, he did not gain consciousness again and was declared dead. Investigators later ruled that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning and it was possibly a suicide.
Regarded as one of the best vocal groups in K-pop history, Shinee continues to exist after Jonghyun’s death. Taemin and the others cancelled a series of concerts that were supposed to be held in February 2018 in Japan but later decided to perform as scheduled.
In August 2014, Taemin started off his solo career with the release of ‘Ace’, an extended play with six tracks. It topped the South Korean music charts and at the United States of America, it peaked at the number two spot. It also earned Taemin two Golden Disk Awards, Bonsang (main prize) and Inkisang (popularity award) in 2015.
He put out his first studio album, titled ‘Press It’, in February 2016. In the following year, he released ‘Move’, his second studio album. It peaked at the number two spot on the Korean chart and at the number three spot on the US chart. The reissue album ‘Move-ing’ was released in December 2017 and it peaked at the number three spot on the Korean chart.
Taemin has also put out two more extended plays: ‘Sayonara Hitori’ (2016) and ‘Flame of Love’ (2017). In November 2017, his only video album to date, ‘Taemin The 1st Stage Nippon Budokan’, was released.
Taemin made his acting debut in 2009 in MBC's comedy series ‘Tae Hee, Hye Kyo, Ji Hyun’, portraying a character named Jun-su. He was then cast as the character Kim Sung-jae in a television series called ‘Moon Night '90’.
He played the recurring character ‘Master of Disguise’ in SBS’ sitcom ‘Salamander Guru and The Shadows’. In 2013, he appeared in three episodes of tvN’s romantic comedy series ‘Dating Agency: Cyrano’.
In 2017, he starred as Son Sion in ‘Final Life: Even if You Disappear Tomorrow’. This was his first main role on television. He has also appeared as himself in two shows: ‘Athena: Goddess of War’ (2010) and ‘High Kick! 3’ (2011).
Taemin’s first big screen appearance was as the voice of Johnny in the 2012 Guatemalan American Aruban computer-animated action comedy film ‘The Outback’. He also starred in the 2013 short film ‘The Miracle’.
He appeared as himself in two films, ‘I Am’ (2012) and ‘SMTOWN The Stage’ (2015). He has also done musical theatre. In 2014, he portrayed Prince Lee Shin in ‘Goong’, which was an adaption of a 2006 TV show called ‘Princess Hours’.
Taemin has been featured prominently in several variety shows on Korean television. He was part of the main cast of KBS2’s ‘Dream Team’ in 2010. In 2012, he appeared as a contestant on KBS’ ‘Immortal Songs 2’. He and singer and actress Son Na-eun paired up to play a married couple in MBC’s reality show ‘We Got Married’.
In 2015, he appeared in ‘Match Made in Heaven Returns’ and ‘Off to School’. In 2016, he was named the winner of the inaugural season of the Mnet show ‘Hit the Stage’. He was featured as one of the mentors in the KBS2’s survival reality series ‘The Unit’ and as a member of the main cast in the 2018 show ‘Why Not? The Dancer’.