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Choi Soo-young (born February 10, 1990), better known by the mononym Sooyoung, is a South Korean singer and actress. She was a part of the short-lived Korean-Japanese singing duo, Route θ, during 2002 in Japan. After returning to South Korea in 2004, Sooyoung eventually became a member of girl group Girls’ Generation in 2007. The group went on to be one of the best-selling artists in South Korea and one of South Korea’s most popular girl groups worldwide. Apart from her group’s activities, Sooyoung has also starred in various television dramas such as The 3rd Hospital (2012), Dating Agency: Cyrano (2013), My Spring Days (2014) and 38 Revenue Collection Unit (2016).
Life and career
1990–2007: Early life and career beginnings
Sooyoung was born in Gwangju, Gyeonggi, South Korea, on February 10, 1990. She is the younger sister of Choi Soo-jin, who is a musical theatre actress. Sooyoung was initially discovered through an S.M. Entertainment Open Audition when she was in fifth grade. She later won first place at the 2002 Korea-Japan Ultra Idol Duo Audition and debuted in Japan as a member of the group Route θ. The group released three singles before disbanding in 2003. Sooyoung returned to S.M. Entertainment and eventually debuted in South Korea as a member of the girl group Girls’ Generation in August 2007. The group gained significant popularity with the release of their hit single “Gee” in 2009. Sooyoung has said in an interview that she was also interested in acting before debuting as a singer and had failed more than 70 auditions during her pre-debut days.
2008–present: Acting roles and lyrics writing
Aside from Girls’ Generation’s activities, Sooyoung has participated in various music and acting projects. In the early days, her acting work mostly involved several small roles and guest appearances—these include KBS2’s sitcom Unstoppable Marriage (2007), romantic comedy film Hello, Schoolgirl (2008), SBS’s drama Oh! My Lady (2010), SBS’s Paradise Ranch (2011) and SBS’s A Gentleman’s Dignity (2012). During this period, musically, she recorded two songs—one trot song titled “KKok” with Girls’ Generation member Yuri for the SBS’s drama Working Mom, while the other one, “Feeling Only You”, was a collaboration with Girls’ Generation member Tiffany and South Korean duo The Blue. Throughout her career, besides contributing her vocal to Girls’ Generation’s songs, Sooyoung has explored into lyrics writing. She penned the lyrics for three songs: “How Great is Your Love” (2011), “What Do I Do” (2016), and “Sailing (0805)” (2016) while co-writing the song “Baby Maybe” (2013).
In September 2012, she landed her first major acting role in tvN’s drama The 3rd Hospital. She played a cute and innocent violinist named Lee Eui Jin, who falls in love with one of the male leads. She was praised by both co-actors Oh Ji Ho and Kim Seung-woo and the viewers were drawn to her emotional scene due to her natural display of emotion. In May 2013, Sooyoung was cast in a lead role in tvN’s drama, Dating Agency: Cyrano. It was a spin-off of the 2010 movie Cyrano Agency. She played a dating expert named Gong Min-young, who works at a dating agency helping people to find their love. Park Ju-Yeon from the Hankook Ilbo praised Sooyoung for her lively character portrayal and said that there were not any “overdone emotions commonly appear in acting newcomers”.
In September 2014, Sooyoung scored a lead role in MBC’s drama, My Spring Days. Her character, Lee Bom Yi, is a terminally ill patient who gets a heart transplant; she meets her donor’s husband, played by Kam Woo-sung, a widow with two kids who lost his wife in an accident. This was a breakthrough performance for Sooyoung as she won the “Best Actress in a Miniseries” award at the 2014 MBC Drama Awards and the “Excellence Award for Actress” at the 2015 Korea Drama Awards. She contributed a song to its soundtrack, titled “Wind Flower”. In 2015, Sooyoung starred as the female lead in KBS2’s special drama Perfect Sense, which was produced by Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance to help raise public understanding of the disabled. She played a teacher named Ayeon, who is visually impaired.
In June 2016, Sooyoung starred as the female lead alongside Ma Dong-Seok and Seo In-guk in the OCN drama 38 Revenue Collection Unit. In September 2016, she was cast in the upcoming medical drama Polyclinic Doctor. In early August 2017, Sooyoung starred as television producer Lee Ahn in the JTBC web drama Someone You Might Know. Later in August, she played the female lead in the MBC drama series Man Who Sets the Table.
In November 2017, Sooyoung joined Echo Global Group after her contract with S.M. Entertainment ended. With a change of label, her future activities with Girls’ Generation remain in discussion.
Since 2015, Sooyoung has held an annual charity auction event called “Beaming Effect”, to raise money for finding a cure for retinitis pigmentosa, a disease that her father suffers from.
Sooyoung graduated from JeongShin Women’s High School in 2009. She went on to major in film studies and graduated from Chung-Ang University in February 2016, receiving a lifetime achievement award at the graduation ceremony. Her fellow Girls’ Generation member Kwon Yuri attended the same university.
Sooyoung has been dating Jung Kyung-ho since 2013.