Something that all fans of K-Pop have to come to terms with is that K-Pop is, in fact, an industry; there are those who compare it to a factory, manufacturing idol after idol to expressly cater to the public. Because at the very core, it’s just business — and that makes it very hard to remember that the commodities involved are still people.

To sum it up simply with the understatement of the century: it’s hard.

When success is so closely tied to popularity, it’s incredibly difficult to remain completely genuine in the face of darker things only avoidable by twisting who you are as a person. And so, many fall back on caricatures — just enough of themselves mixed with what it takes to make it big — and may forget what it was like to be anyone else.

So what about Sunny, then?

sunny genie

When Sunny was first introduced to the world, she took on the part of a bright, bubbly energy pill who always had aegyo at the ready — which is still not a false representation. And it definitely helped her attract some of the spotlight, enough for her to immediately start peeling back that particular casting off centimeter by centimeter, revealing what she’d thought was better to hold back from, at first.

Because the special thing about Sunny is that she is one of the few who realized that she didn’t need to rely on tried-and-true one-liners to garner attention at every public appearance. She not only refused to compromise her self image with the public’s, but also had the perseverance to make sure that everyone else knows that the Lee Sunny she sees herself as is just as likable, too, if not more so.

sunny being sunny

Because yes, Sunny is a singer, and yes, she’s a dancer; but she’s also been a successful musical actress and a popular radio DJ. She’s someone who still doesn’t mind pulling out the aegyo once in a while if it’ll cheer her friends up, but just one heartfelt smile will also do; and she’s always been someone others depend on to say the sound, practical thing in the face of otherwise mind-boggling circumstances.

To sum it up simply, Sunny wholeheartedly embraces who she is and isn’t afraid to let the world judge her for it — because she knows that if she doesn’t get to where she wants to be while being anything less than completely herself, then what’s the point of going anywhere in the first place?

sunny hoodie

So here’s to the Lee Sunny we all know and love: the who likes to lounge on the couch in front of the television, snacking on takeout and entertaining her cat. The one who scrolls through Instagram just to talk with fans, or to post photo after photo to remind us that she still hasn’t changed; because perhaps most importantly, we know that she’s someone who doesn’t let the brilliant dazzle of stardom blind her from what it means to have solid footing before she takes yet another step forward.

Happy birthday, Sunny. The coming years may have more difficulties in store, but we have full faith that you’ll navigate them with the levelheadedness you’ve always had, and the kindness you’ve never been afraid to show.

sunny mwuah

Sources: “Roommate”, 박양작가다효리, soshi gang fanclub, Sunny’s Instagram
Written by: moonrise31@soshified
Lyrics translation from SonexStella@soshified