May 3, 1981
Incheon, South Korea
|Died||January 21, 2007
Incheon, South Korea
|Other names||Heo Yun|
|Revised Romanization||I Hye-ryeon|
|Revised Romanization||Heo Yun|
Lee Hye-Ryeon (이혜련), name changed to Heo Yun (허윤), best known as U;Nee (Hangul: 유니; May 3, 1981 – January 21, 2007), was a South Korean singer, rapper, dancer and actress who was found hanged at her apartment having committed suicide.
Before dedicating her career to music, she was known by her birth name Lee Hye-Ryeon. She legally changed her name to Heo Yun. After her debut as a singer, she used the second stage name U;Nee professionally until her death.
U;Nee was born Lee Hye-Ryeon (이혜련) on May 3, 1981 in Seo-gu, Incheon, South Korea. No information is known about her mother besides the fact she held a press conference after U;Nee's death, but her father died young and she was raised by her grandmother. This led to an early development of depression at age 7. U;Nee got into acting at the age of 17, under her real name Lee Hye-Ryeon, but it was her dream to become a singer.
2003: Debut and U;Nee Code
In 2003, U;Nee debuted as a dance-pop singer, with upbeat songs (although some of her songs were upbeat songs, she rapped in many of them), as heard in her very first single, 가 (Go). The song was well received by Korean media, and garnered her many fans. The track was then featured on her debut album, U;Nee Code, released on June 12, 2003. U;Nee Code sold well.
2005: Image Transition & Call Call Call/Passion & Pure - EP
In 2005, her record label started to market her as a sexy singer, focusing more on her image, while transforming her dance-pop style music into a sexy R&B sound, as heard in her 2005 single, Call Call Call. U;Nee underwent plastic surgery, enlarging her breast size in the process and having slight surgery on her jaw and nose. Soon after, U;Nee released her 2nd album, Call Call Call, with sales equally similar to U;Nee Code, even though the lead single, Call Call Call, was performed frequently and landed within the Top 10 of Korean Music Charts. U;Nee's record company then tried to advertise her more as a sexy singer, which gave her harsh criticism from netizens. U;Nee, who was personally soft-spoken and reserved, found this difficult to bear. U;Nee was also known as "ユニ" (Yuni) in Japan.
2006: U;Nee in Japan
In 2006, U;Nee was marketed abroad in Asia. Her debut single, One, taken from Call Call Call, was released in Japan in February 2006. The single also included an alternate version of Sun Cruise from her debut album, U;Nee Code, and Follow Me, a song that would later appear on her 3rd and final album, Habit. She held a showcase performing a variety of her songs from her Call Call Call album with great reviews, thus gaining her many fans in Japan.
During the majority of her performances, U;Nee often showcased her extraordinary dance skills, as she was known before and after her debut as an excellent dancer.
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On January 21, 2007, U;Nee committed suicide - she hanged herself in her home in Seo-gu, Incheon, South Korea. After her death, her mother held a press conference at the hospital. She confirmed that U;Nee suffered from early bouts of depression, for which she took medication, and had problems dealing with the pressures of fame, as well as personal problems. There was no suicide note, but she did write that she felt lonely on a Web site: “I feel everything is empty. I am again walking down a path to reach a destination that I don’t know."
U;Nee's management company released her third album as planned on January 26, 2007, five days after her death.
- "New Generation Report – Adults Don’t Know"
- "The Theme Game"
- "The Tears of a Dragon"
- "The King and the Queen"
- "Call Call Call"
- Looi, Elizabeth, "Korean singer found hanged", Malaysia Star, January 25, 2007.
- "유니 (U;NEE, 허윤)" (in Korean). Daum. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
- "포토". Daum 뉴스. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Showbiz Suicides Alarm Management Agencies". chosun.com. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- "The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea - Why Do So Many Korean Celebrities Kill Themselves?". chosun.com. Retrieved 18 October 2015.
- U;Nee on Daum Cafe