Seo Ju-hyun (born June 28, 1991), known professionally as Seohyun, is a South Korean actress and singer. She debuted as a member of girl group Girls’ Generation (and later one of its subgroups TTS) in August 2007, which 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, she has established herself as an actress, notably through her participation in the original and Korean versions of stage musicals including Moon Embracing the Sun, Gone with the Wind and Mamma Mia. She also starred in the drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. She debuted as a solo artist with her first mini album, Don’t Say No, on January 17, 2017, making her the third Girls’ Generation member to debut as a solo artist.
Seohyun was born Seo Ju-hyun on June 28, 1991, in Seoul, South Korea, and is the only child in her family. Her mother was a chairman at a piano school and Seohyun was taught how to play piano, as well as violin and traditional Korean drums in her early childhood. She also learned horseback riding and skating as a child. Her parents did not encourage her to become a celebrity, but Seohyun credited them as the ones who helped her choose her career path by letting her experience different things. As a fifth grader, Seohyun was discovered by a talent scout while riding in a subway train. She sang children’s songs for her audition at SM Entertainment, and was accepted as a trainee. Seohyun cited BoA, S.E.S and Fin.K.L. as her main influences to become a singer, expressing “I thought it was cool to show and communicate the emotions through songs”. In August 2007, Seohyun made her official debut as the youngest member of girl group Girls’ Generation. The group gained significant popularity after the release of their hit single “Gee” in 2009.
Seohyun’s early solo work mostly involved songs recorded for side projects and original soundtracks. Although they did not achieve much commercial success; her duet titled “JjaLaJaJJa” with veteran singer Joo Hyun-mi earned a “Trot Music of the Year” nomination at the 2009 Mnet Asian Music Awards. In 2010-2011, Seohyun appeared in MBC’s variety show We Got Married 2, alongside CNBLUE’s Yonghwa. They played a make-believe couple, portraying what life would be like if they were married. In addition, Seohyun was cast as voice actor for the Korean-dubbed version of animated film Despicable Me (2010) and its sequel Despicable Me 2 (2013), together with Taeyeon. She voiced the character Edith, who is known for her rebellious attitude.
In April 2012, a Girls’ Generation subgroup named TTS was formed with Seohyun and fellow members Taeyeon and Tiffany. Their debut EP, Twinkle, met with much success and became the 8th highest selling album of the year in South Korea. The subgroup went on to release two more EPs: Holler (2014) and Dear Santa (2015). Besides contributing her vocals to Girls’ Generation and TTS songs, Seohyun began to become more active in lyrics writing. She co-wrote the songs “Baby Maybe” and “XYZ” (I Got a Boy, 2013) and was credited as the sole lyricist for “Only U” (Holler, 2014) and “Dear Santa” (Dear Santa, 2015).
In 2013, Seohyun’s acting career began when she was cast in a small role in SBS’s drama Passionate Love. She played Han Yu-rim, a veterinary student and first love of the male lead character. Director Bae Tae-sub said Seohyun’s persona “perfectly paralleled that of her role” and “her understanding and expressiveness of the character exceeds those of a rookie actress”.
Seohyun, self-described as someone who likes both singing and acting, began to develop an interest in musical theatre. She named musical actress Ock Joo-hyun, who later became her mentor, as her main influence. Although she had wanted to be in a musical for a long time, she rejected casting offers because she felt unprepared. In January 2014, her wish was fulfilled as she accepted her first musical acting role. Seohyun made her theatrical debut in the musical, Moon Embracing the Sun, which was adapted from the novel of the same name. Seohyun played the lead role, Yeon-woo, the daughter of a noble family who has a love relationship with both the King and his brother.
In January 2015, Seohyun was cast in the role of Scarlett O’Hara in the Korean version of Autant en emporte le vent, a French musical based on Gone with the Wind. She received encouraging review for her performance. Seon Mi-gyeong of OSEN said that while Seohyun’s performance cannot surpass that of Bada, who shared the same role, her “fierce voice” complimented and successfully expressed an arrogant Scarlett O’Hara. Kim Hyun-joong of Sports Chosun noted Seohyun’s occasional “clumsy” acting, but compared her to Ock Joo-hyun during her rookie days and said that “her ability to bring emotion through song, the most important part of a musical, rivaled that of a veteran actor. Despite a short career, she endlessly showed us various colours and peculiar charms of a woman’s life.”
From February–June 2016, Seohyun was cast in the Korean version of the musical Mamma Mia. She played a character named Sophie, a 20-year-old bride-to-be, who hopes to find out who her biological father is on her wedding day. Kim Geum-yeong from CNB Journal commented on Seohyun’s improvement from her prior musical performances, praising her “natural acting” and “daring side” while Park Jeong-hwan from News1 claimed Seohyun’s performance made the musical “all the more entertaining”. Seohyun next played supporting roles in Chinese romantic film So I Married An Anti-fan and SBS’s historical drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo; the latter earned her a Special Acting Award at the 2016 SBS Drama Awards.
In January 2017, Seohyun became the third Girls’ Generation member to release a solo album, with the release of her debut extended play titled Don’t Say No. For this record, Seohyun took full initiatives and control of the production process, shaping her own musical style–a fulfillment of what she was unable to do fully being in a larger musical group. Tamar Herman from Billboard noted the album presented a “new maturity” to the singer. Don’t Say No debuted atop the South Korean Gaon Album Chart. To accompany her solo release, she held a concert residency titled “Love, Still – Seohyun”, part of a series of concerts by SM Entertainment artists.
After taking part in OnStyle’s web-drama Ruby Ruby Love, Seohyun next starred as the female lead in MBC’s weekend drama Bad Thief, Good Thief.
In October 2017, Seohyun left SM Entertainment after her contract ended. Her future activities with Girls’ Generation remain in discussion.
In 2018, Seohyun was cast as the female lead in MBC’s melodrama Time.
Seohyun graduated from Jeonju Arts High School in February 2010. Until 2011, Seohyun named former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as her life mentor and role model, stating that his book, at one point in time, had helped her endure hard times. She was appointed as the United Nations Pavilion’s ambassador at Yeosu Expo, where she was presented with the honor by Ban.
In 2013, as an effort to help less-fortunate students with their studies, she donated 100 million Korean won to Dongguk University. She went on to major in theatre acting and graduated from Dongguk University in August 2014, receiving an achievement award at the graduation ceremony. Her fellow Girls’ Generation member, Yoona, attended the same university.