Yay, it’s my birthday!

We have now entered March, and spring is in the air for many parts of the world, and autumn in other places. What is also in the air is the birthday of our adorkable Kim Taeyeon, the responsible yet goofy leader of Girls’ Generation. Like with all of the other girls, Taeyeon has many defining characteristics, and each of them contribute to the Taeyeon we all know and love.

To a casual observer, the first thing that stands out is Taeyeon’s voice. There’s a reason she’s the lead singer and has many of the solos in Girls’ Generation. There’s also a reason why she has many solo soundtrack performances and why established artists have said they would like to perform duets with her. Even the musically challenged can tell Taeyeon’s voice is something special, with the rich, full, pitch-perfect singing easily sending chills down spines, especially when she starts one of her signature wails.

But being the lead singer is not Taeyeon’s only job in the group. Taeyeon is the leader, responsible for taking care of her dongsaengs, to the point that she’s referred to as an ahjumma. She’s been known to stuff snacks from the green room into her purse for later, not necessarily for herself, but for her fellow members in case they get hungry. Her care for people isn’t just limited to her group, however. Taeyeon has shared food with audience members, including when she hosted Win Win. When Taeyeon’s mother asked if it was hot performing on stage in warm weather, Taeyeon showed her concern for the fans, replying that while the performers could cool off backstage, the fans had to stay outside. Taeyeon has pitched in and helped staff who were supposed to be assisting her, as reported in a fan account when she helped the Samyang commercial crew set up the nine-person bicycle. On top of that, she reigned in the other girls, who were being their rowdy selves, and had them assist as well.

Sometimes I save the food for myself too.

Her ahjumma-ness isn’t just limited to her leadership. She’s known for her ahjumma laugh, a deep and full-bodied laugh, and her ahjumma sayings, such as “omo” and other shortened exclamations. Perhaps being the eldest and being in charge of a huge group of girls has contributed to Taeyeon acting older than her years. But this of course is balanced out by her silliness and good humor.

As one of the shorter members, Taeyeon is consistently the butt of the other girls’ jokes. Sunny has told Kyungsan not to grow up to have legs like Taeyeon. The girls have noted Taeyeon’s many sleep habits, including snoring, grinding her teeth, pretending to deejay, introducing the group, and sleeping in a yoga position. Taeyeon of course takes all of this in stride and with a quick wit. For example, she has turned the tables on the height matter by noting that at least her “butt is okay”. She also laughs off her mistakes, such as when confusing the words “pacifier” and “nipple” or when she could not set up bowling pins. Her sense of humor about her “flaws” (to the other members, not us) only contributes to the word that was coined just for her: adorkable.

The sheepish grin of an adorable dork.

Taeyeon personifies the word “adorkable”. Even though she constantly acts weird and abnormal (at least by societal standards), there is a certain charm to her personality that makes people more attracted to this goofy side of her. Rather than bewildering people, her affection for her members and other colleagues (read: “byun-ness”) makes people find her endearing. Her noted lip-synching and dancing to songs during her ChinChin days were always big hits. Her imitations, especially her Maria Sharapova grunt and her Engrish, are funny yet impressive. Despite her constant protests that she has no aegyo and that she hates it, Taeyeon’s attempts at being overly cute have the ability to make people laugh, cringe, and fall for her at the same time. This may be because Taeyeon believes that her aegyo cannot compete with other people’s, which would fall in line with her high expectations for herself.

We all know that Taeyeon is a hard worker, which she has to be to meet her own lofty standards. She’ll keep working on a task until it’s completed to her satisfaction, whether it’s singing, dancing, deejaying, hosting, or acting. She’ll do anything to get the job done, such as actually learning guitar just for her Midnight Sun performance. She has clear and definite goals that she strives towards constantly. In fact, before she became a trainee, Taeyeon actually researched record labels as a young girl to find which company would fit her best and help her the most in becoming successful. Taeyeon’s former teacher, the One, has said that “Taeyeon had a clear goal of ‘becoming a singer and sing to be on top’….She set up her own standards in learning to sing and showed a clear conviction and desire.” Her search for perfection has led to her having high expectations for others, and even though she may come off as blunt, it can be said that she only wants what is best for everybody, which is what a good leader would do.

Yeah, that’s right. You’d better not mess with me.

Her aim to be on top comes from her family. Her parents taught her to be hardworking and encouraged her to follow her goal to be a singer, which was actually her father’s dream at one point as well. Taeyeon’s parents will do anything to help their daughter. For example, despite both parents working at the family eyeglass shop in Jeonju, three hours away from Seoul, they will insist on driving her back to Seoul after each time Taeyeon comes home and visits them. Taeyeon’s mother even goes up to take care of Taeyeon when she’s sick. Taeyeon actually feels like she’s burdening her parents when they do this, which shows how much she cares for them.

Taeyeon’s care for her family translates into considerable love for them and a strong attachment to them. She confides in her parents over the phone and listens to stories about fans visiting her parents’ store. She has heart-to-heart talks with her mother when they are together. As a young child, Taeyeon would follow her mother around everywhere, peeking over her mother’s shoulder to see what she was doing and then try to imitate it, which is how Taeyeon learned to man the barbecue at restaurants. Taeyeon is very close with her siblings as well, having fought with her brother Jiwoong (and other kids in her elementary school) when they were young. She is very protective of her younger sister Hayeon and is very strict with her, though this is likely from loving her too much and feeling responsible for her, especially since she cannot be with Hayeon most of the time.

Taeyeon may be on both extremes in terms of maturity, being the most responsible and talented yet incredibly silly at the same time. But that turns out to be a perfect combination, as Taeyeon is able to provide herself, her group, and SONEs with the best of both worlds. Even Taeyeon seems to know and embrace this, as she calls herself the “Kid Leader”, combining her responsibility and whimsicality into one. While it’s Taeyeon’s turn to have a wish on her birthday this March 9th, SONEs would be forgiven if they selfishly wished that Girls’ Generation’s adorkable Kid Leader did not change even as she grows older, because Kim Taeyeon is already perfect the way she is.

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Image sources: Soshified Gallery, Star News, Chinhan Chingoo, KBS, SM Entertainment