Zhang Liyin

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Zhang Liyin
Chinese name (traditional)
Chinese name (simplified)
PinyinZhāng Lìyǐn (Mandarin)
Born (1989-02-28) February 28, 1989 (age 29)
Chengdu, Sichuan, China
Years active2006–present
Voice type(s)Mezzo-soprano
Label(s)S.M. Entertainment (2006–2017)
Show City Times (2017-)
Associated acts
Zhang Liyin
Traditional Chinese張力尹
Simplified Chinese张力尹
Hanyu PinyinZhāng Lìyǐn

Zhang Liyin (born February 28, 1989), better known in South Korea as Jang Ri-in, is a Chinese singer. She is a former member of S.M. Entertainment's project group S.M. The Ballad. Subject to much publicity, Zhang was nicknamed the "Chinese BoA" and the next leader of the Korean Wave. She speaks both Mandarin, which is her first language, and fluent Korean, and has released singles in both China and South Korea, singing in both languages.

Zhang has released only one studio album since her debut in 2006, but its singles carried a few top ten titles, such as "Timeless," which was a #1 hit, as well as "I Will".[1][2] She is also the first foreign artist to win Best Newcomer award at the Mnet Asian Music Awards.

Early life[edit]

Zhang was born in Chengdu, Sichuan, China. She is a member of the Yi people. Her parents took her to their classical concerts and exposed her to a variety of music. At the age of three, she began to learn the violin. Zhang was so interested in classical, American, and European pop music that she claims she never sang children's songs when she was a child. She also developed the ability to sing a song after hearing it only once.[3] When she was nine years old, she showed her musical ability when she sang Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On".[3]

As she grew older, Zhang became more absorbed into pop music than classical music. She secretly listened to pop music because her parents were against it. When she was twelve, she was accepted into a middle school affiliated to Sichuan Conservatory of Music after scoring the highest with her violin talents, but she opted to become a singer instead. Eventually, her parents began to support her dream to become a singer and she gained confidence when she was selected as the top 10 adult singers in a national singing competition under a sponsorship in Shanghai, China.

Zhang was discovered by Korean entertainment company DR Music in 2002 while attending a Baby V.O.X. concert in China, and signed an eight-year contract with the company to last until May 2011.[4] The next year, she moved to South Korea and started training at the age of fourteen. In August 2003, Zhang's mother requested DR Music to terminate Zhang's contract so Zhang could focus on her studies, but in the same month, Zhang signed a contract with S.M. Entertainment.[4] On June 18, 2007, DR Music filed a lawsuit against Zhang and S.M. Entertainment to get 200 million Korean won for compensation for her exclusive contract with them.[4]


2006–07: Debut with Timeless and commercial success[edit]

Zhang's debut was anticipated not only in South Korea, but all of Asia, due to S.M. Entertainment's advertising of her being the "Chinese BoA" as well as Lee Soo-man himself stating he was training her to be the next leader of the Korean Wave. Before her official debut, it was already known that her first song was a duet with popular TVXQ member Xiah, which generated even more interest in her. Before the official release of her single, "Timeless" was available for free download between August 31 and September 6 on her official website.[5] "Timeless" is a South Korean cover of the original single by Kelly Clarkson and Justin Guarini.

On September 8, 2006, "Timeless" was released. The "Timeless" music video, which is a two-part installment starring Lee Yeon-hee and Super Junior members Han Geng and Siwon, was ranked #1 on Melon's Video Chart for four full weeks. Within ten days of debuting, Zhang entered the "Take 7" chart on SBS's Inkigayo.[1]

Zhang promoted the second track of her debut single, "Y (Why...)," in early 2007. S.M. Entertainment also released a "Timeless" documentary version of her "Y (Why...)" music video. This music video reveals her hardships during training; it also showed many behind the scenes clips of her promotion of "Timeless", including never-before-seen footage of her with Xiah. However, promotions for "Y (Why...)" ended quickly, and S.M. Entertainment announced that she would be on hiatus from the music industry throughout the rest of the year to prepare for her major debut in China in the end of the year. Zhang made a surprising guest appearance at TVXQ's second Asia tour concert in Seoul, South Korea on February 23, 2007. She performed "TRI-ANGLE" with TVXQ, singing a part in the song that was previously performed by BoA. She made a second appearance with TVXQ on November 24, 2007 in Malaysia for the same concert, and was TVXQ's regular guest star for their "O" Asia tour until its finale in June 2008.

2008: I Will[edit]

Zhang's first Mandarin album, I Will was originally announced to be released in late 2007, but the release date was pushed to early March 2008. The album was finally released in different regions of China starting March 3, 2008 and on March 28, 2008, I Will made its Asia-wide release. Before the release of the album, two music videos were released on February 27, 2008 to promote the album. Similar to "Timeless", the two music videos "I Will" and "The Left Shore of Happiness", are one story but separated to two parts. Han Geng, Siwon, and Lee Yeon-hee are also the cast for those two music videos.

After the album's release, Zhang received praise from various industry professionals. Golden Melody Award-winning Taiwanese American singer-songwriter Leehom Wang complimented Zhang's singing and was surprised to hear such a strong voice coming from only a nineteen-year-old.[6] During a radio broadcast, award-wiketekunan Hong Kong-based singer-songwriter, Hins Cheung compared her "soulful" vocals to well-known R&B vocalists such as Whitney Houston, Leona Lewis and Christina Aguilera. He was impressed at the "international-level music" of the release and said he felt there was a lot of "power in this nineteen-year-old."[7]

On May 25, 2008, Zhang received her first award, following the release of her Chinese album, at the 5th Annual Music King Global Chinese Ultimate Song Chart Awards for Female Mainland Newcomer with Most Potential.[8] In her speech, she expressed wishes for more financial support towards the Sichuan earthquake that had devastated home province two weeks earlier.[9] Throughout the months of May and June, Zhang attended many online interviews and made numerous variety show appearances, as well as a short university tour to raise money for the Sichuan earthquake.[10] A solo fan meeting for Zhang was held on July 5, 2008 in Beijing. Besides performing songs from I Will, she also covered songs from notable R&B female singers Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera.

On September 13, 2008, fans first heard confirmed news of Zhang's repackage album, which would feature the track "Believe in Love", as well as plans for her second Chinese album.[11] Despite this, the repackage album still has not been released and there has been no other announcements of it being sold in the future.

While Korea's Mnet/MK Music Festival was being held on the same night, Zhang attended the 6th Annual Southeast Music Ranking on November 15, 2008, winning the award for Best Mainland Newcomer.[12] Her win was followed by numerous invitations to other award shows throughout the month of December, including the 2008 Tencent Star Ceremony,[13] BQ 2008 Celebrity Ranking,[14] and the 1st Annual Mengniu New Music Festival.[15]

2009–13: Moving On, second album recordings and Hiatus[edit]

The beginning of 2009 saw Zhang's Chinese activities come to an end as she started preparations for her second album. Activities for Chinese New Year brought her alongside Super Junior-M to many activities, including her first appearance on China’s biggest television broadcaster, CCTV, for the Dance & Music Spring Festival Gala.[16] She was also in Shanghai on January 9 to film for a song collaboration between many popular Chinese pop artists, such as Show Lo, Fish Leong and BoBo.,[17]

On February 6, 2009, Zhang flew to Thailand for the second time in her career to attend the Bangkok concert stop in the SMTown Live '08 tour. For that weekend, her activity schedule was tight as she was required to fly throughout Asia for activities. Less than 10 hours after the end of the Bangkok concert, Zhang flew with members of Super Junior-M to Guangzhou, Guangdong, China to participate in the 8th Annual Future Star Competition,[18] which also featured JJ Lin, Eric Tsang and Dicky Cheung. She returned to South Korea for album preparations on February 9, 2009.

On March 7, 2009, Zhang was the opening act for the last Super Show concert in Chengdu on March 7, 2009, singing "I Will" and "The Left Shore of Happiness".

Aside from a performance at the Descendants of the Dragon concert hosted by Jackie Chan,[19] Zhang was relatively inactive as she remained in South Korea to record her second single.

Finally, a year and a half after the release of her first album, a teaser for her upcoming song, "Moving On" was released on October 15. Four days later, the full music video was released through S.M. Entertainment and Sohu. The music video features Zhang reflecting back on her memories of the fictional relationship between Donghae (of Super Junior) and herself before they break up. Despite fans' general disappointment towards the music video being only a slideshow of photos, it was highly anticipated.[20] On October 23, a week before the single's release across China, a joint press conference was held for both Zhang and Super Junior-M for them to officially announce their new releases to the Chinese media.[21]

After three short months of promotions for "Moving On", Zhang announced on her Cyworld that she would be returning to South Korea on January 24 to prepare for her second Chinese album.[22] Zhang posted on her Sina Weibo account that her album may be released in September or October. Despite this, the album was eventually delayed. During the summer of 2012, Zhang once again announced on her Weibo account that she is busy recording for her new album and it may be released in September or October.[23] Unfortunately, the album release was once again pushed back. In June 2013, labelmate Zhou Mi posted on his official Weibo account hinting that a new album from Zhang may be forthcoming: "Good voices with great potential should not be buried; anticipating Liyin's transformation from a pupa to a butterfly! New album, hurry up and release!"[24]

2014-present: S.M. The Ballad, Agape, Not Alone and Hiatus[edit]

On February 3, it was announced that S. M. The Ballad would make their comeback in the month after more than 3 years of hiatus, and Zhang would join Shinee's Jonghyun, Super Junior's Yesung, Super Junior-M's Zhou Mi, TVXQ's Changmin, Girls' Generation's Taeyeon, Exo's Chen, and Krystal from f(x) in promoting a new mini album called Breath. The eight members released their second mini album on February 13, with Zhang performing the Chinese version of "Breath" with Chen. The Chinese version of "Breath" was promoted on various Chinese and Korean music shows including Hunan TV's The Lantern Festival, Arirang's Simply K-Pop, and SBS MTV's The Show.

Through various Korean news sites on May 23, 2014, it was revealed that Zhang would be releasing a new song in the summer. Fellow labelmate, f(x)'s Victoria, was cast as the lead actress.[25] On June 18, news arrived that Zhang's music video filming was underway. SM confirmed with Korean media outlets that two more labelmates, EXO member Tao and actor Song Jae-rim were added to the cast.[26] Zhang's third digital single Agape was released August 2, 2014, on Baidu Music exclusively for the Chinese market, before a wider release on Korean online music stores four days later. Agape was promoted on various Korean TV shows like Arirang's Simply K-Pop, SBS MTV's The Show and Mnet's M! Countdown. Zhang also made an appearance on CCTV Global Chinese Music Chart to promote the song in China.

On August 7, Zhang announced during a live Weibo interview that a new single will be released after promotions for Agape; the song and its music video will be a sequel to "Agape".[27]

On September 20, Zhang released her fourth single Not Alone in China through Baidu and then later released in South Korea through Korean music sites MelOn, Genie, Naver and Bugs on September 22. The single is a remake of Tiffany's "By Myself" from the SBS drama series Ja Myung Go. The song is the continuation of the story line of her previous single Agape. To support the release of her latest single, Zhang had a showcase in Beijing on September 22 with EXO members Chen and Tao with Tasty as special guests. At the showcase, Zhang performed "Agape", "Back Then", "I Will", "Breath", and "Not Alone".

On February 28, 2017, due to Yizhibo broadcast, Zhang revealed that her contract with S.M. Entertainment will expire in April 2017 and she decided to pursue her career in China.[28]


DR Music[edit]

On June 18, 2007, DR Music filed a lawsuit against Zhang and SM Entertainment to get compensation for 200 million from terminating their exclusive contract. Zhang had signed an artist contract with DR Music back in 2002.[4]


Like former label mate Han Geng, Zhang holds an E-6 (entertainment industry) visa, for foreigners in South Korea. Foreign artists carrying out promotional activities have limitations in terms of location and other factors. Han's visa only allowed him to work under SBS and KBS, while Zhang's allows her to work only with SBS and MBC, which is why she only performs on the two stages. On August 1, 2008, the South Korean government's law of restrictions on foreigners were lifted, and foreign entertainers are now allowed to perform in every station in the country. However, Zhang was unable to perform on MBC due to the channel's conflict with S.M. Entertainment. As of late 2008, MBC has removed the ban of S.M. Entertainment's artists on their channel.[citation needed]





Television shows[edit]

Year Network Title Role Notes
2008 JSBC: Jiangsu Television Super Star (非常大明星) Guest
HBS: Hunan Television Yue Ce Yue Kai Xin
GRT: Guangdong Television Star (最愛主打星)
2010 HBS: Hunan Television Day Day Up
2014 HBS: Hunan Television The Lantern Festival
SMG: Dragon Television Immortal Song (不朽之名曲) Episode 4
AHBC: Anhui Television Mad for Music (我为歌狂) Episodes 2, 3, 9, 10, 11
HBS: Hunan Television Laugh Out Loud (我们都爱笑)
SZMG: Shenzhen Television The Generation Show (年代秀)

Radio shows[edit]

Year Channel Date Title
2014 MBC March 18 C-Radio Idol True Colours
MBC October 11 C-Radio Idol True Colours


Year Award Category Recipient Result
2006 Mnet Asian Music Awards Best New Artist[29] "Timeless" Won
Cyworld Digital Music Awards Rookie of the Month (September) "Timeless" Won
M.net KM Music Festival Best New Female Solo "Timeless" Won
2008 Music King Awards Female Newcomer with Most Potential "星愿 (I Will)" Won
Fujian Southeast Music Ranking Best Mainland Newcomer Zhang Liyin Won
Tencent Star Ceremony Most Popular Female Singer Won
Top Chinese Music Awards Most "Attention Grabbing" Newcomer Won
2014 AHTV Mad for Music Most Popular Female Artist Won

Music programs[edit]


Year Date Song
2006 September 24 Timeless (ft. Xia Junsu)


  1. ^ a b Yoo, Sook. "Zhang Liyin who debuted for 10 days up for 1st nominee, viewers eyesore". Newsen (in Korean). Daum. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  2. ^ Kim, Hyun-woo. "Zhang Liyin in Korea and now China is crowned to the top of the countdown at #6 after two weeks on Chinese chart". Newsen (in Korean). Newsen. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  3. ^ a b Profile image on official homepage Archived March 4, 2007, at the Wayback Machine (in Korean), SM Entertainment, 2006-08.
  4. ^ a b c d Lee, Jae-hwan. "Singer Zhang Liyin, Baby V.O.X. management sues for 200 million won". Newsen (in Korean). Daum. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  5. ^ "Melon - Timeless (Single) Editorial Review Archived 2011-07-24 at the Wayback Machine" (in Korean), Melon, 2006-09.
  6. ^ "Little R&B Queen Zhang Li Yin Hopes to Duet with Leehom Wang" (in Chinese), Sina, 2008-06-06. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  7. ^ "Hins Cheung Compliments Zhang Li Yin on Radio" (in Chinese), Baidu, 2008-06-14. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  8. ^ "5th Annual Music King Global Chinese Ultimate Song Chart Awards Winners List Archived 2008-06-22 at the Wayback Machine" (in Chinese), 21CN, 2008-05-26. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  9. ^ Zhang Liyin - Winning Award & "I Will" (in Chinese), 2008-05-26. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  10. ^ "Music Brings Hope; Dreams Bring Tomorrow" (in Chinese), Sina, 2008-07-02. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  11. ^ "Zhang Li Yin's Second Single "Believe in Love" (in Chinese), Sohu, 2008-09-14. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  12. ^ "2008 Southeast Music Ranking Winners List" (in Chinese), Sohu, 2008-11-15. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  13. ^ "Zhang Li Yin in Red & Black Strapless" (in Chinese), QQ, 2008-12-15. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  14. ^ "Zhang Li Yin Preparing Second Album" (in Chinese), Sina, 2008-12-22. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  15. ^ "Mengniu New Music Festival" (in Chinese), Baidu, 2008-12-19. Retrieved December 28, 2008.
  16. ^ "2009.01.25 Chinese New Year Dance Festival - Zhang Li Yin - One More Try", 2009-01-25. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  17. ^ "2009 Chinese Idol New Year Festival" (in Chinese), 2009-01-26. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  18. ^ "8th Annual Future Star Competition Archived February 2, 2009, at the Wayback Machine" (in Chinese), 8th Annual Future Star Film & TV Star Competition. Retrieved April 25, 2009.
  19. ^ "Jackie Chan Invities Over 100 Guests to the Bird's Nest" (in Chinese), 2009-04-20, Sports.cn. Retrieved April 20, 2009
  20. ^ "Young R&B Diva loves massages in her busy life Archived November 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine" (in Chinese), 2009-10-30, Honggebang. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  21. ^ "Super Junior-M, Zhang Liyin Fanmeeting" (in Chinese), 2009-10-22, Sohu. Retrieved November 3, 2009
  22. ^ "Tomorrow, I return to Korea" (in Chinese), 2010-01-23, Cyworld. Retrieved January 25, 2010
  23. ^ "ZhangLiyin_riin's Weibo" (in Chinese), 2012-06-25, Sina Weibo. Retrieved August 26, 2012
  24. ^ "ZhouMi_SJM's Weibo" (in Chinese), 2013-07-23, Sina Weibo. Retrieved August 12, 2013
  25. ^ Park, Seol-ah. "Victoria appearing in Zhang Liyin's music video, display of friendship in the 'China Line'". Newsen (in Korean). Newsen. Retrieved 26 May 2014.
  26. ^ Yoon, Hye-Young. "Zhang Liyin Solo Song Mv, Song Jae Rim- Tao Filming 'SM Family Mobilization'" (in Korean). TV Daily. Retrieved 18 June 2014.
  27. ^ Zhang, Liyin. "Zhang Liyin chats new song". Weibo (in Chinese). Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Zhang Liyin confirms SM Entertainment contract ends in April". Chocolyn. Retrieved 1 August 2017.
  29. ^ (in Korean) "2006 M.net Korean Music Festival Winners list" Archived January 27, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. MAMA. Retrieved 2014-06-12.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
M.NET KM Music Festival - Best New Female Group/Artist
Succeeded by
Wonder Girls