Who is Song Ji-eun?
Song Ji-eun is a South Korean singer and television actress. Better known by the mononym Jieun, she is one of three current members of the all-girl group, ‘Secret’. Her love for music developed at an early age, which led to a successful audition for JYP Entertainment. Song was set to appear as a member of the agency’s own K-pop group but the plan was eventually discarded and she left JYP for TS Entertainment. Under her new talent agency, she flourished and was included as the lead vocalist when ‘Secret’ was formed in 2009. While the group initially did not enjoy much success, it all changed with the release of the chart-topping singles ‘Magic’ and ‘Madonna’ in 2010. Gradually, the group members carved out a “girl next door” image in the Korean entertainment industry. They have put out two studio albums, toured Japan and Singapore, and won several awards. Jieun is equally active as a solo artist, having released multiple singles and sung for the OSTs of popular dramas. In 2015, she was nominated for a Seoul Music Award in Bonsang category for her debut Extended Play (EP), ‘25’.
While at JYP, Song performed ‘Learning to Fly’ for ‘Air City’ OST in 2007, ‘Bichunmooga’ for ‘Bichumoo’ OST and ‘Perfume’ (ft. PK Herman) for ‘The Lawyers of the Great Republic Korea’ OST in 2008.
Her decision to move to TS Entertainment proved much more productive. As a trainee, she was given singing and dancing lessons and later grouped together with three other girls, Jung Hana, Jun Hyoseong, and Hun Sunhwa (left the group in 2016). In September 2009, TS Entertainment released a statement revealing the name of their new four-member girl group as ‘Secret’ as well as their plans to debut them in October 2009. The talent agency also put out a documentary show called ‘Secret Story’, which chronicled their individual journey and the debut process. The group’s first single ‘I Want You Back’ was released on October 13, 2009. In the same year, Song collaborated with Hwanhee on the track ‘Yesterday’.
Despite the adequate promotion, neither the song nor the group itself received much public favour. But the back-to-back success of ‘Magic’ and ‘Madonna’ in 2010 brought just that and more. The latter topped the Gaon Digital Chart while the former reached the #2 spot. Jieun and her band won the Newcomer Award at the 25th Golden Disk Awards in 2010. She also made her acting debut that year, in a cameo role on MBC’s ‘More Charming by the Day’
On January 6, 2011, the group released the single ‘Shy Boy’. Written and produced by Kang Jiwon and Kim Kibum, the track sold over 2 million digital downloads in South Korea within a year. They released their first full-length album ‘Moving in Secret’ on October 18. Eight months later, on 22 August 2012, their second album ‘Welcome to Secret Time’ was released through Sony Music Entertainment Japan.
Her solo career truly began to thrive only after ‘Shy Boy’ became a youth anthem. She returned as a solo artist to sing ‘Going Crazy’, which was released on March 3, 2011. The track, also featuring B.A.P’s Bang Yong-guk, registered as her first top spot entry on the Gaon Chart as a solo artist.
Her debut solo album ‘Hope Torture’ was released on September 30, 2013 by LOEN Entertainment. Containing three tracks, ‘Vintage’, ‘Hope Torture’, and ‘Date Mate’, the album reached #6 spot on the Gaon Album Chart. In 2014, she worked on her first EP, ‘25’ as well as debuted in a major role on the web drama ‘Longing for Spring’.
In 2015, Song was cast in tvN’s fantasy youth comedy ‘The Superman Age’, played the role of Lee Yeo-ri in the web series ‘Immutable Law of First Love’, and was part of KBS2’s drama ‘Sweet Home, Sweet Honey’.
She put out her second EP ‘Bobby Doll’ on September 20, 2016. In 2017, she landed her most popular role yet as Lee Yoo-mi on OCN’s ‘My Secret Romance’.
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Song Ji-eun was born on May 5, 1990, in Seoul, South Korea. She is the only child of her father and Kwon Jeong-im, her mother. Her childhood love for singing and music led to her recruitment by JYP. She was trained alongside future SISTAR member Hyolyn (Kim Hyo-jung) and future EXID member Hani (Ahn Hee-yeon) for an all-girl group under the agency. But ultimately it did not come to fruition and the girls were subsequently released.
Inspired by their sizzling on-screen chemistry in ‘My Secret Romance’, fans and media outlets alike have begun to speculate on a possible real-life romance between Jieun and her co-star in the show, Sung Hoon. The fact that they have been recorded flirting behind the scenes only added fuel to the fire. Nothing, however, has been confirmed nor denied by either actor.
Due to the poor living conditions the group endured in their early days, ‘Secret’ earned the nickname “basement idols”.