Im Yoon-ah

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Im Yoon-ah
Im Yoon-ah at a Bucheron event in November 2016 (2).jpg
In November 2016
Native name 임윤아
Born (1990-05-30) May 30, 1990 (age 27)
Yeongdeungpo District, Seoul, South Korea
Other names Im Yoon-a
Alma mater Dongguk University
  • Singer
  • actress
Musical career
Genres K-pop
Instruments Vocals
Years active 2007–present
Labels S.M. Entertainment
Associated acts
Im Yoon-ah
Hanja 林潤妸
Revised Romanization Im Yun-a
McCune–Reischauer Im Yun-a

Im Yoon-ah (Hangul: 임윤아; born May 30, 1990), better known by the mononym Yoona, is a South Korean singer and actress. She debuted as a member of girl group Girls' Generation in August 2007, who went on to become 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, Yoona has participated in various television dramas, notably You Are My Destiny (2008) which was a ratings success, marking her career breakthrough, and Prime Minister and I (2013) for which she won an Excellence Award at the 2013 KBS Drama Awards. Following the ratings success of her Chinese television debut, God of War, Zhao Yun (2016), she starred in South Korean television drama The K2 (2016).

Life and career[edit]

1990–2007: Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Yoona was born on May 30, 1990[1] in Seoul, South Korea. Her family consists of her father and an older sister by five years.[2][3] While growing up, she listened to girl group S.E.S and dreamed of becoming a singer. In 2002, she was cast in the SM Saturday Open Casting Audition and spent five years "doing nothing but constant training" in singing, dancing and acting. During her trainee days, she had low self-esteem about her low voice, and once thought of giving up singing in order to pursue an acting career. A SM choreographer persuaded her to continue, saying it would be "a waste to give up becoming a singer" with her "outstanding dancing skills". He also considered her as the best female dancer within the agency.[4] Vocally, though Yoona is not known to have a wide vocal range, she has been described by critics to have a "very sweet voice". Prior to debuting, Yoona was introduced to the public through various appearances in music videos and commercials; she first appeared in TVXQ's "Magic Castle" music video in 2005.[5] She made her official debut as a member of Girls' Generation in August 2007, becoming the "center" of the group.[6][4][7] The group gained significant popularity with the release of their hit single "Gee" in 2009.[8]

2008–2016: Acting roles & overseas popularity[edit]

Apart from Girls' Generation's activities, Yoona has acted in several television dramas. Her acting career began in 2007 with a minor role in MBC's drama Two Outs in the Ninth Inning.[9] She then appeared in MBC's Woman of Matchless Beauty (2008), and was complimented by veteran actress Bae Jong-ok for her cameo performance.[10]

In May 2008, Yoona landed her first leading role in KBS's drama You Are My Destiny, playing the character Jang Sae-byuk. The drama achieved viewer ratings of up to 41.5%, and Yoona received wider public recognition.[4][11] She considered the role a turning point in her career,[12] and won two "Best New Actress" awards at the 2008 KBS Drama Awards[13] and 45th Baeksang Arts Awards.[14] In 2009, Yoona was cast in MBC's drama Cinderella Man along with Kwon Sang-woo.[15]

Filming Love Rain in September 2011

In March 2012, Yoona was cast in a lead role alongside Jang Geun Suk in KBS2's drama Love Rain, a fantasy drama about fate where the offspring of an ill-fated couple who met in the 1970s, meet and fall in love with each other in the modern era.[16] Yoona played two characters: Yun-hee of the 70s and Ha-na of modern times.[17][18] Although the drama scored low domestic viewership[19] and was criticized for its failure to relate to the viewers,[20] Yoona's acting received positive reviews. Yoon Ga-ee of OSEN wrote: "The speed at which her acting is improving is blinding. She has matured to the point where you want to ask, 'When did her acting get so good?' The criticism that trailed behind her during Cinderella Man is now nowhere to be found."[21] Choi In-kyung of Hankook Ilbo said her acting was continuously improving and "Yoona is completely immersed in her character and has now become 'Hana' herself."[22] The drama garnered much positive overseas interest[23][24] and was sold to Japan for $10 million, the second highest price for a KBS drama at the time, partly due to Yoona's popularity.[25]

In December 2013, Yoona starred alongside Lee Beom-soo in KBS2's romantic comedy drama Prime Minister and I. Loosely based on the musical film The Sound of Music,[26] Yoona played Nam Da-jung, a young and stubborn reporter who falls in love with the prime minister. The drama received low ratings but Yoona's performance was praised.[27] Lee Beom-soo said, "Acting has to go by logic, only when one understands can the audience understand too, Yoona is smart and did very well. I am anticipating her path down as an actress; at the same time, I want to give her applause".[4] She won an Excellence Award at the 2013 KBS Drama Awards for the role.[14]

In March 2016, Yoona released her first solo single “Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway”, a collaboration with the South Korean indie group 10cm, as part of SM Station.[28] The urban-pop song peaked at number 24 on Gaon Digital Chart.[29] Fuse described it as "breezy and easy-listening" and complimented how "lovely" Yoona delivered the song.[7]

In April 2016, Yoona was cast in her debut Chinese drama God of War, Zhao Yun, based on the Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. She played two characters–one falls in love with the male lead character but later finds out he killed her father while the other is skilled in martial arts. The drama's viewership ratings peaked at more than 2%, which was described to be "a huge success" relative to China's large population. It also recorded more than 10 billion hits through various online videos sites, reflecting Yoona's popularity in China.[30] Following the success, in August 2016, Yoona released a Chinese digital mini-album titled Blossom, which contains her renditions of well-known Mandarin songs.[31]

2016–present: The K2 and film debut[edit]

In September 2016, Yoona returned to Korean television, starring in tvN's action thriller The K2.[32] She portrayed Go An-na, a recluse character who is troubled by her childhood trauma–a departure from her prior bright and bubbly acting roles.[33] Tired of being typecast with a candy-like image and having always been burdened by the idol-actress prejudice, Yoona cast away the public perception and focused on the role as her "personal challenge".[34][35] Her effort gained positive viewers' recognition.[36] Seon Mi-gyeong from OSEN expressed that the drama became Yoona’s representative work, saying that despite the complexity of the character, the actress was able to carry out her emotional acting and "wonderfully worked out the role who is shaky yet so lovely".[37] No Han-sol from TopStarNews indicated that Yoona’s acting "continuously tug audience’s heartstrings" and that she was able to "reach out to the audience effectively" not by using words, but expressions to convey her emotions.[38] Yoona believed the character helped to transform her onscreen image from the public's eye,[33] further elaborating:

"I wish people will see me as an actress when I am acting and see me as a Girls' Generation member when I am on stage...I don’t want to purposely try to break away from that [idol] label. I want to be seen as an actress naturally, and I will continue to do my best and not be scared."[39]

Following a supporting role in her debut film Confidential Assignment (2017),[40] Yoona will be playing Eun San in MBC's upcoming historical drama The King Loves, an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Kim Yi-ryung. Principal photography of the drama began in December 2016 and is planned for a 2017 broadcast.[41]

In the media[edit]

At a promotional event for Innisfree in Shanghai in January 2015

Yoona has been called a "CF Queen" due to her several television commercial films, and has been a spokesperson for various brands.[42][43] CNN credited her as "one of the household names in the Asia-Pacific region" which has helped Korean beauty brands become popular in China.[44] In 2010, she became the first idol to endorse S-Oil, a large South Korean petroleum and refinery company.[45] In 2012, she appeared in at least 20 commercials and was ranked fifth among celebrities with the most commercial appearances by TVCF, South Korea's largest advertisement information site.[46][47] In 2013, she became the first overseas endorser for Alcon Taiwan.[48][49] Since 2009, Yoona has been a long-term spokesperson for Amor Pacific's comestic brand Innisfree.[50] Other major endorsements included Crocs and Lee Jeans.[51][52] In 2016, Yoona was listed by Forbes magazine as one of Asia's "30 under 30" most influential celebrities in the entertainment and sports.[53]

In January 2015, she became a member of South Korea’s Honor Society as a recognition for her charitable donations.[14][54][55][56][57] In August of the same year, Yoona was among a group invited to lunch at Blue House by South Korean president Park Geun-hye to honor those who have contributed charitable and voluntary work to the society.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Yoona graduated from Daeyoung High School in 2009.[59] She went on to major in theater studies and graduated from Dongguk University in February 2015, receiving a lifetime achievement award at the graduation ceremony. Her fellow Girls' Generation member, Seohyun, attended the same university.[60][61] She was also chosen as an ambassador for the said university in 2014 along with Apink's Son Na-eun and Park Ha-sun.[62]


Extended plays[edit]

Title Album details


Title Year Peak chart

As lead artist
"Deoksugung Stonewall Walkway"
(덕수궁 돌담길의 봄)[64]
(featuring 10cm)
2016 24 Non-album single
Promotional singles
"Haptic Motion"[66]
(with Jessica, Tiffany, and TVXQ)
2008 N/A Non-album singles
"Innisfree Day"[67] 2010
Soundtrack appearances
"Amazing Grace" 2016 N/A The K2 soundtrack
"—" denotes releases that did not chart



Title Year Role Notes Ref
I AM. 2012 Herself Biographical film of SM Town [68]
SMTown The Stage 2015 Herself Documentary film of SM Town [69]
Confidential Assignment 2017 Park Min-young Supporting role [40]

Television drama[edit]

Title Year Network Role Notes
Two Outs in the Ninth Inning 2007 MBC Shin Joo-young Supporting role
Unstoppable Marriage 2008 KBS2 Bulgwang-dong's Seven Princesses Gang Cameo
Woman of Matchless Beauty, Park Jung-geum MBC Mi-ae
You Are My Destiny KBS1 Jang Sae-byuk Lead role
Cinderella Man 2009 MBC Seo Yoo-jin
Love Rain 2012 KBS2 Kim Yoon-hee / Jung Ha-na
Prime Minister and I 2013 Nam Da-jung
Because It's The First Time 2015 OnStyle Herself Cameo[70]
God of War, Zhao Yun 2016 Hunan Television Xiahou Qingyi / Ma Yurou Lead role; Chinese drama
The K2 tvN Go An-na Lead role
The King In Love 2017 MBC Han Eun-san

Variety show[edit]

Title Year Network Role Notes
Family Outing 2 2010 SBS Regular cast

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref
2008 2nd Korea Drama Awards Netizen Popularity Award You Are My Destiny Won [71]
KBS Drama Awards Best New Actress Won [13]
Netizen Award Won
2009 45th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (TV) Won [14]
Most Popular Actress (TV) Won
2010 46th Baeksang Arts Awards Cinderella Man Won
2012 6th Mnet 20's Choice Awards 20's Female Drama Star Love Rain Nominated
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
Netizen Award Won [72]
2013 49th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actress (TV) Nominated
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Prime Minister and I Won [14]
Best Couple Award with Lee Beom-soo Won [73]
Netizen Award Nominated [74]
2014 50th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actress (TV) Nominated
16th Seoul International Youth Film Festival Best Young Actress Nominated
2015 Global Luxury Award Global Tourism Industry Congress Fusion Seminars with Lin Gengxin God of War, Zhao Yun Won [75]
National Tax Service of South Korea Best Public Tax Payer Award N/A Won [76]
8th Busan International Advertising Festival Best Korean spokesmodel in China N/A Won
2016 1st Asia Artist Awards Asia Star Award, Actress N/A Won [77]
Popularity Award, Actress N/A Won
31st Korea's Best Dresser Swan Awards Best Dressed Actress N/A Won [78]
Ceci Beauty Award Asia Fashion Female Celebrity Award N/A Won [79]
2017 53rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (Film) Confidential Assignment Nominated [80]
Most Popular Actress (Film) Won [81]


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External links[edit]