IU may be one of the biggest Korean artists today, but her journey to the top was not always assured.

She debuted in 2008 with her single “Lost Child,” a soulful ballad that showed off her powerful vocals. Though other idols like SHINee noticed her talent, the public did not react so positively.

As soon as I started singing the first line, curses flew at me. [The audience] was like, ‘Did you even practice?’

— IU in Strong Heart

In an interview with JoongAng Daily three years later, IU considered her own debut a failure. Instead of looking back at it with disappointment, however, she was grateful for the experience.

iu lost child
IU | MBC

I think I’ve been climbing up the ladder little by little over the years. My first album failed, but I’m grateful for that. If I had become successful as soon as I made my debut, I wouldn’t appreciate my staff members and the popularity that I’m enjoying now.

— IU

The first award she ever received was “Rookie of the Month” from the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism in November 2008. There was little fanfare surrounding the achievement but she was thankful for it nonetheless.

I’m getting a new artist of the month award called ‘Power Rookie.’ This is my first award since my debut so it’s significant.

— IU

She couldn’t help but share her awe at being given this honor especially considering the tough competition at the time.

Many talented new singers are out this month. I’m honored and I feel kinda numb when I think about getting the award instead of them. I’m very grateful to the people who chose me. It makes me want to work harder.

— IU

Just a few years later, IU dominated the charts and award shows! Her latest album, LILAC, was released on March 25, and all 10 of its tracks charted on music streaming platform MelOn. The title track “LILAC” quickly rose to first place on the MelOn Weekly Chart, making it her 24th song to ever reach the top spot.

lilac

What a glow-up!

daesang