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Tzuyu in plaid against red backdrop
Tzuyu at the Golden Disc Awards in January 2019
Background information
Birth nameChou Tzu-yu
Born (1999-06-14) June 14, 1999 (age 21)
East District, Tainan, Taiwan
Years active2015–present
Associated acts
Chinese name
Korean name

Chou Tzu-yu (周子瑜, born June 14, 1999), known mononymously as Tzuyu (Korean쯔위, Korean pronunciation: [t͈sɯ.ɥi]; Chinese: 子瑜), is a Taiwanese[1] singer based in South Korea. She is the youngest member of the girl group Twice, formed by JYP Entertainment. Tzuyu is Twice's only member from Taiwan.[2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Tzuyu was born in the East District of Tainan, Taiwan on June 14, 1999 to self-made entrepreneurs.[3][5][6] She started dancing from a young age and trained at a dance academy.[7]



Tzuyu performing at Seoul Arts College in February 2016

In 2012, Tzuyu was discovered by talent scouts at the MUSE Performing Arts Workshop in Tainan, and moved to South Korea in November that year to start her training.[6][8] In 2016, Tzuyu passed an exam at Tainan Municipal Fusing Junior High School to certify her middle school education. She attended high school at Hanlim Multi Art School in South Korea and graduated in February 2019.[9][10][11][12][13] In 2015, Tzuyu participated in the South Korean reality television show Sixteen, hosted by JYP Entertainment and co-produced by Mnet.[2][14] As one of nine successful participants, she went on to join the newly formed girl group Twice.[2] Unlike the other winners of Sixteen, Tzuyu was selected based on audience voting.[2][3][7]

Career with Twice[edit]

In October 2015, Tzuyu officially debuted as a member of Twice with their first extended play, The Story Begins.[15] The lead single "Like Ooh-Ahh" was the first K-pop debut song to reach 100 million views on YouTube.[16] Since her debut she has also been featured in advertisements and worked as a presenter for multiple music television shows.[7]


According to Gallup Korea's annual music survey, Tzuyu was the third most popular idol among South Koreans in 2016.[17] She ranked ninth in the 2017 survey[18] and twelfth in 2018.[19] In 2019, Tzuyu was ranked as the second most popular female K-pop idol in a survey of soldiers doing mandatory military service in South Korea.[20] Tzuyu has received positive coverage for her natural beauty.[2][7][21][22] In 2019, Tzuyu was ranked as having the most beautiful face in the world by TC Candler, a group which has conducted such a ranking since 1990.[23][24]

Flag incident[edit]

In November 2015, Tzuyu appeared with Twice on the Korean variety show My Little Television. She introduced herself as Taiwanese and held the flag of Republic of China (Taiwan) alongside that of South Korea. The flag of Japan was also shown, representing the nationality of the girl group's three other members, Momo, Sana and Mina.[25]

The Taiwanese-born, China-based singer Huang An took to his Sina Weibo account and accused her of being a Taiwanese independence activist.[26] Just days before calling attention to Tzuyu, Huang had accused Hong Kong actor Wong He of making insulting comments about mainland China on Facebook. Wong's face was subsequently blurred out on China's state run China Central Television and Wong issued an apology.[27]

Mainland Chinese internet users reacted angrily towards Tzuyu's actions, accusing her of "profiting from her mainland Chinese audience while holding a pro-independence stance".[28] Soon after, Twice was barred from Chinese television[29] and Tzuyu was pulled out of her endorsement with Chinese communications company Huawei. JYP Entertainment suspended all her activities in China for the time.[30]

On January 15, 2016, the day before the Taiwanese general election, JYP Entertainment's founder Park Jin-young apologised to the Chinese media through his Weibo account.[31] Meanwhile, the agency also released a video showing Tzuyu reading an apology, which said in part:

There is only one China, the two sides of the strait are one, and I have always felt proud to be Chinese. I feel extremely apologetic to my company and to Internet friends on both sides of the strait for the hurt that I have caused, and I also feel very guilty.[32]


With many alleging that it was made under duress, Chou's apology sparked a furore among the Taiwanese public on election day.[33][34] The three candidates running for Taiwan's presidency all released statements to support her.[35] The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Tsai Ing-wen stated that "a citizen of the Republic of China should not be punished for waving her flag and expressing support for her country. [Chou Tzuyu] has been forced to say the exact opposite of what she originally meant, so this is a serious matter and it has hurt the feelings of the Taiwanese people." Meanwhile, the ruling party Kuomintang's candidate Eric Chu disapproved of the hate directed at Chou, stating that he was saddened by the video, and condemned the actions of Huang An and JYP Entertainment.[36] Taiwan's outgoing president Ma Ying-jeou stated on the morning of election day that she had no need to apologise.[37]

Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) stated that it supported Chou's waving a Republic of China flag as a patriotic act. It lodged a protest with the mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), urging the Chinese government to "restrain its private sector", which it said had "seriously hurt the feelings" of the Taiwanese people and might further damage Cross-Strait relations. It condemned Huang An's move, and urged people on both sides of the strait "to cherish the hard-earned friendly ties".[38]

The People's Daily, the newspaper of the Communist Party of China, published an article on its social media account saying that it was unfair to label Chou a "Taiwanese separatist" for waving a flag of the Republic of China, adding that "The expression of the Republic of China contains the 'one China' principle".[39]

JYP Entertainment said that, because Chou was under 18, the company had sought the consent of her parents before she made the video apology.[39] They further stated, "An individual's belief is not something that a company can or should force upon another, and this has never happened."[40]

Effect on the national elections in Taiwan[edit]

The incident gained international attention as it was believed to have affected the 2016 Taiwanese general election, which Tsai Ing-wen won by a wide margin. While Tsai and her pro-independence DPP were already leading the polls months before the election,[32][41] a survey found that Chou's video apology affected the decision of about 1.34 million young voters, either by swaying them to vote or change their votes.[42] Scholars believe that the incident probably contributed one or two percentage points to Tsai's winning margin.[41][2] Tsai mentioned the incident in her victory speech, saying that it had "angered many Taiwanese people, regardless of their political affiliation" and would "serve as a constant reminder [to her] about the importance of [Taiwan]'s strength and unity to those outside our borders."[41][43]

Effect on Huang An[edit]

Chou's apology video prompted Taiwanese backlash against Huang An. Among other responses by Taiwanese media, a popular Taiwanese television program cancelled Huang's upcoming appearance, while a karaoke chain permanently removed his discography from its playlists.[44] Over 10,000 angered Taiwanese citizens pledged to attend a street rally in criticism of Huang on January 24, 2016.[45] However, the rally was cancelled to prevent the event from being politically exploited or negatively impacting Chou.[46]

Taiwanese human rights lawyer George Wang (王可富) filed lawsuits with the Taipei District Prosecutors Office against Huang An and JYPE following the apology video's release. Wang cited that Huang's actions likely violated the Criminal Code and that combined psychological pressure from Huang and the agency impeded Chou's autonomy and impelled her to do something she was not required to do.[43][47]

Huang announced on his Weibo account that he would hold a press conference on February 3, 2016, in Taiwan to discuss his side of the story, stating that he was not the wrongdoer and crediting himself with the incident's impact on the Taiwanese election.[44][48] Shortly after, Huang wiped all self-generated posts from his Weibo account, amounting to roughly 4,900 messages and photos.[46]

Effect on JYP Entertainment[edit]

On the Monday after the video's release, JYP Entertainment shares on the KOSDAQ fell from a 52-week high of KR₩6,300+ to ₩4,000, ultimately closing at ₩4,300.[49]

In addition to George Wang's lawsuit, the Center for Multicultural Korea also questioned the company's ethics. The Center will conduct an investigation to determine if Chou's apology was coerced or voluntary and plans to sue Park Jin-young and JYP Entertainment for racial discrimination and human rights violation if the action is found to have been forced.[50]

The day after Chou's apology, anonymous hackers executed what appeared to be a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the JYP Entertainment site.[51] JYP Entertainment stated that while the identity and origin of the hackers would be almost impossible to trace, they suspected a strong connection between the attack and the controversy surrounding Chou.[52] Korean media outlets contend that a certain Taiwanese hacking group implemented the attack after the group claimed credit on social media.[50]

In response to criticism, JYP Entertainment announced that it would be adopting new procedures concerning its exports and overseas activities in order to protect employees from future controversies. This included the implementation of cultural sensitivity training for its artists and staff members. In an interview with The Korea Times, a JYP representative stated that the training would include issues pertaining to political conflicts between countries.[53]




Songwriting credits
Year Song Album Artist Notes Ref.
2019 "21:29" Feel Special Twice Co-written by all Twice members [55][56][57]


TV shows[edit]

Year Title Role Network Note
2015 Sixteen Contestant Mnet A survival show designed to select the members of Twice


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External links[edit]