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Seohyun has never been what we would usually associate with “the youngest”. Her members dote on her like loving older sisters, of course, but they also happily give her an authority not often enjoyed by others in a similar group dynamic. From the very beginning, after all, they’ve listened to her as she coaxed (demanded) them from consuming hamburgers and other unhealthy foods (“if you eat it, you’ll die!”), and even showed their approval by proudly proclaiming her “maknae on top”.

Seohyun, for her part, most likely didn’t intend for it to end up this way. But she took it in cautious stride, and let her members’ overflowing confidence in their most junior member push her to heights far higher than she could have ever imagined.

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To be frank, Seohyun was never the typical idol, either. She guested on variety shows to talk about self-improvement books and getting enough sleep to maintain a good skin condition, while also confessing a deep affection for the Keroro cartoon and answering questions with an innocence surprisingly representative of her youth (Who cooks the rice in the Girls’ Generation dorm, you ask? The rice cooker, of course).

Even now, after more than a decade under the harsh microscope of the public eye, she maintains those same supposed incompatibilities: from one day clumsily dropping the glass fish she was impressively excited about scaring Tiffany with, to shaking hands with her role model — the one and only United Nations ambassador Ban Kimoon — the next. So it’s not hard to conclude that, even years and years later, Seohyun remains a prime example of how a person can encompass seemingly conflicting characteristics in perfect, harmonious juxtaposition.

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If there’s one thing that takes all of her traits — the ones that we’ll admire until we’re old and gray, as well as those we’ll always wince in affectionate second-hand embarrassment at — and ties them all together, it’s how earnest Seohyun is. It’s how she approaches every new day and every new task with nothing less than clear-cut honesty, and radiates the sincerity that gives her dreams no choice but to come true.

We’ve watched this earnestness carry her through the years, from a starry-eyed teenager who promoted voting in national elections as much as she did sweet potatoes, to a representative of the entire country not just as a renowned performer, but as an ambassador across one of the most prickly borders in recent history — diplomacy at its very finest (but still with a penchant for adorable dogs, and a willing victim of her members’ ever-generous showers of affection for their ever-favorite maknae).

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Out of all the Girls’ Generation members, Seohyun perhaps had the most room to grow; and unsurprisingly, she bloomed beyond anyone’s wildest imagination. Still, she remains starry-eyed and thinking about folding paper airplanes to throw from high-rising rooftops. But her sights are more focused now: eyes sharper and brighter than before, boarding an aircraft more akin to a private jet before blasting off to her next far-reaching destination.

Happy birthday, Seo Juhyun. Thank you for showing us that there’s a balance to everything, and that even in storms as vicious as the ones you’ve had to weather, it’s always possible to keep from losing yourself.

Sources: “NYLON” magazine, “COSMOPOLITAN” magazine, HAZZYS, XSPORTSNEWS, Seohyun’s Instagram
Written by: moonrise31@soshified
Lyrics translation from SonexStella@soshified

Originally posted on June 28th, 2018.