Lee Sun-mi, popularly known through the mononym Sunmi, is a singer and former member of one of South Korea’s legendary girl groups, Wonder Girls. She first debuted as part of the group in 2007 before leaving in 2010 to pursue an academic career.
After a three-year hiatus, she came back and officially debuted as a solo artist with the release of her debut extended play (EP), Full Moon, in August 2013.
Sunmi was born on May 2, 1992 in Iksan, North Jeolla, South Korea. She attended Hwangnam Elementary School, Chungdam Middle School and High school, and is currently attending Dongguk University, majoring in musical theater.
While in university, she adopted her stepfather’s surname, officially becoming Lee Sun-mi.
2006 to 2012: Career beginnings with Wonder Girls, hiatus
Sunmi was revealed to the public in May 2006 as the fourth member of Wonder Girls, an upcoming girl group formed by JYP Entertainment.
On February 10, 2007, the group made their debut with the single “Irony” on MBC’s Show! Music Core. They quickly rose to stardom with their succeeding hits, “Tell Me,” “So Hot,” and “Nobody” within two years since their debut.
In January 2010, however, it was announced that Sunmi would be taking a hiatus from the group and her music career to pursue an academic career. She was set to complete her remaining promotions with the group until the following month, performing in previously scheduled events.
2013 to 2016: Solo career and reunion with Wonder Girls
In August 2013, Sunmi was confirmed to be preparing to make a return in the music industry, but this time as a solo artist. She made her official solo debut on August 22 with a performance of her debut single, “24 Hours,” on Mnet’s M! Countdown, which was scheduled for release four days later. The song subsequently achieved an all-kill on music charts.
It wasn’t until February 17, 2014, however, that she released her debut EP, Full Moon, featuring the lead single of the same name. The song peaked at number two on the Gaon Digital Chart and at number three on Billboard’s K-pop Hot 100 shortly after being released.
On June 24, 2015, JYP Entertainment announced that Sunmi is set to reunite with the Wonder Girls for the group’s comeback after a two-year hiatus. The group returned with a band concept with Sunmi playing the bass.
In August, Sunmi co-wrote and co-produced three of the songs in Wonder Girls’s Reboot album.
The following year, she was again credited as a songwriter and producer for two of Wonder Girls’s songs in the album Why So Lonely, including the title track of the same name.
2017 to present: Departure from JYP Entertainment, more solo promotions
It was announced on January 26, 2017 that Wonder Girls were set to disband after their label JYP Entertainment was unsuccessful in negotiating contract renewals for Sunmi and fellow member Yeeun. The group released their final single, “Draw Me,” on February 10, which also served as a celebration of their 10th anniversary.
Around the end of February, Sunmi signed with Makeus Entertainment which also houses singers such as Urban Zakapa and Park Won.
On August 22, she released the single “Gashina,” her first solo comeback in three years, produced by Teddy Park of The Black Label.
On January 18, 2018, Sunmi released the song “Heroine,” which was described as the prequel to her previous release, “Gashina”. The song went on to become a huge hit in 2018, earning her several awards at year-end award shows such as Best Female Artist at the Mnet Asian Music Awards, as well as Artist of the Year and Best Music Award at the Asia Artist Awards.
Eight months later, she released her second EP, Warning, featuring the lead single “Siren”. The song achieved an all-kill on six local music charts.
On March 4, 2019, Sunmi released her single “Noir”.