Koreans love to title their celebrities, especially with the term “Nation’s _________”. And K-celebs take it as an honor to be nicknamed the nation’s anything, because it means they are that iconic in the public eye for the time being. It also signifies that celebrity’s reputation and popularity, so the title is often warmly embraced by the stars as well.
And among all the national titles, the “Nation’s Little Sister” has been a long living one – passed down from female stars who have each had their eras of completely enchanting the nation! Here are the 10 best known of the “Nation’s Little Sisters”.
1. Actress Lim Ye Jin
Actress Lim Ye Jin, born 1960 and debuted 1974, is the original “Nation’s Little Sister”. Because she debuted young, she took on roles of the “pretty teenaged student” in several movies and TV series – helping her win the title of everyone’s favorite “dongseng (동생, younger sibling)”. With her signature “innocent look”, Lim Ye Jin was the hottest, trendiest star picked by the Korean public back in the days. Lim Ye Jin may have passed on the little sister title to the younger generation, but she is still widely beloved by the viewers for her undying visuals and quirky TV personality.
2. Actress Lee Sang Ah
Actress Lee Sang Ah, born 1972 and debuted 1984, took on the “Nation’s Little Sister” title as her popularity grew immensely after the super popular TV series The Last Match. Lee Sang Ah also had stunning visuals that stole the fans’ hearts. She was featured in many reputable TV commercials, proving her worthiness to be titled the nation’s favorite little sister. She discontinued acting for a whole decade between 1995 – 2005, but returned from her hiatus in 2006 and has been appearing on screens again. Her fans believe time works differently for Lee Sang Ah, because she still looks drop dead gorgeous.
3. Singer and Actress Jang Na Ra
The nation’s little sister title was passed on to singer-turned-actress Jang Na Ra when she debuted in 2001. Her albums immediately took her to stardom and she soon appeared in New Nonstop, a hit TV sitcom series that was known to feature only the hottest stars of the time. But her most successful TV appearance is Successful Story of a Bright Girl, in which she played a “bright girl” character that soon made all of Korea fall in love with her. She was not only the nation’s little sister, but the nation’s first multi-entertainer. Most Koreans agree that Jang Na Ra is the one who kicked off the concept of K-Pop idols also working as actors.
4. Actress Moon Geun Young
Actress Moon Geun Young, who debuted in 1999, immediately became an icon – with her forever young face and extraordinary acting skills. Her stardom began when she played the younger version of actress Song Hye Kyo in Autumn in My Heart, but her time really came when she filmed the movie, My Little Bride in 2004. Moon Geun Young is actually the real “Nation’s Little Sister”, as her appearance in that movie is what coined the term. Only after the term became widely accepted did Lim Ye Jin, Lee Sang Ah, and Jang Na Ra come to be included in the line of little sisters. Moon Geun Young remained the nation’s little sister for ages before passing the title on.
Former Wonder Girls‘ member Sohee is the first K-Pop star to take on the title, “Nation’s Little Sister”. As soon as she debuted with Wonder Girls in 2007, Sohee became known as the “Omona Girl” – from her signature line and dance move in the song “Tell Me”. She, and the Wonder Girls, became a nationwide sensation. Because Sohee was the youngest member, and she best fit the ‘little sister’ reputation with her fluffy cheeks and cutesy personality, Sohee was rightfully crowned the nation’s little sister.
6. Figure Skater Kim Yuna
While the title “Nation’s Little Sister” may seem a bit casual for the national figure skating champion and forever legend Kim Yuna, that is what the Korean public called her when she first began winning competitions and appearing on TV programs around 2007. Alongside swimmer Park Tae Hwan – who was actually called the Nation’s Little Brother, and the two of them together were called the Nation’s Siblings – Kim Yuna was beloved by the Korean public for her potential to lead the South Korean figure skating field. Once she began wowing the figure skating fans at global levels, Kim Yuna shed the little sister title and became the one and only Yuna Queen.
IU, who debuted in 2008, didn’t receive the Nation’s Little Sister title until her duet with 2AM‘s Lim Seulong “Nagging” brought up her popularity in 2010. Only by the time IU released “Good Day”, going completely viral for the high pitched notes in the song, she was recognized by the nation as the next little sister in line! IU continued to hold the title throughout her appearance in the globally popular TV series Dream High, which aired in 2011. Thanks to the huge success of this K-Drama, IU began doing tons of TV commercials – really boasting her reputation as the nation’s favorite little sister.
8. The Kim Sae Ron – Kim Yoo Jung – Kim So Hyun Trio
Since IU, and the end of 2000s, the title “Nation’s Little Sister” did die out a little bit. While no one person has strongly carried on the title, actresses Kim Sae Ron, Kim Yoo Jung, and Kim So Hyun are still described as the nation’s up and coming little sisters. These actresses, also known as the Kim Trio, have long been in the acting industry since they debuted as kids. And because the public remembers their baby and student phases, they are often associated with the “younger sister” concept. While all three of them have matured into beautiful young women and veteran star actresses, they are the closest to being the current nation’s beloved little sisters!