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Lee Hyo-ri rides another wave of popularity

Singer Lee Hyo-ri (Official Website of Lee Hyo-ri)
Singer Lee Hyo-ri (Official Website of Lee Hyo-ri)

South Korean singer Lee Hyo-ri’s recent comeback is creating a buzz on and offline. Songs from her new album are routinely heard on the streets of Seoul. Her trademark cool personality is also spicing up her music on TV entertainment programs.

The 34-year-old singer made her debut in 1998 as a member of K-pop girl group Fin.K.L. and enjoyed much popularity due to the group’s girlish image. After the group disbanded, Lee came out in 2003 as a solo artist with sexy hip-hop song “10 Minute,” which led to a wave of interest come to be known as “Hyori Syndrome.” Since then, she has been dubbed the “sexy queen of K-pop.”

The huge popularity Lee enjoys, however, goes beyond her sexy image. The singer is praised by many, especially female fans, for her candid attitude and a sense of humor she brings to TV programs.

On a recent talk show, Lee freely talked about her celebrity ex-boyfriend -- a level of candor rarely seen in other Korean celebrities. All four variety shows featuring Lee recently saw their ratings go up sharply, reflecting the public’s interest in the candid singer.

Lee is also famous for her affection toward animals: She drums up support for abandoned animals and encourages active participation in protecting animal rights. Even when she had to drop out of TV programs in the aftermath of the plagiarism scandal that overshadowed her fourth album, Lee volunteered for an animal protection group and donated a large sum of her income to related charities.

“(Lee) Hyo-ri is an iconic sexy singer and a social activist, a unique type of figure hardly seen in Korea,” said Ha Jae-gun, a pop culture critic. “She is capable of playing both the role of a celebrity and a person engaged in social movements, which could be the reason why so many aspiring stars choose her as their role model.”

Lee’s fifth album “Monochrome,” released last month, is faring well on the local music charts. The singer will perform at the music festival “Muse in City” slated for June 15.

By Park Sui, Intern reporter