Although it later became the subject of much controversy and investigation, the initial beauty of the girl group survival show, “Produce 101” was that it allowed dozens of stars to completely reinvent themselves and forge a new path in their career. This was certainly true for Kim Sohye, who prior to her appearance on the show had worked only as an actress, with dance and vocal experience. Now a member of the group IOI, Kim Sohye has impressed international audiences with the ease with which she adapted to the Korean pop (K-Pop) lifestyle. She has also branched into more academic arenas, and has started her own management label.
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Early Life and Family
Kim Sohye was born on 19 July 1999, in Seoul, South Korea to father Kim Ho-Won and her mother Lee Seung-Ran; she has a younger brother named Kim Yoon-Soo. Kim first realized her dream of being an actress after she saw the film “Suny”. Not only did she identify her dream, but she also discovered her role model, Chun Woo-Hee, who played the main role in the film. Kim Sohye shared that whenever she needs motivation or a reminder of her goal, she can simply turn to Chun to remind her of why she does what she does.
Although her career has since taken a drastic turn, during her school years Kin Sohye was extremely athletic.
She was one of the best volleyball players throughout her years of junior high school, and later received the National Junior Title as libero – the most skilled defensive player on the team.
She attended Gyeonggi High School, from which she matriculated on 7 February 2018, by which time she had already made significant headway into the K-Pop and acting industry. During the previous year, she and her co-star, Super Junior Heechul, made a deal that if she attended one of his concerts, he would attend her matriculation. Super Junior Heechul held his end of the bargain, when he showed up with a bouquet of flowers and posed for pictures with her.
Kim Sohye acting debut predates her appearance on “Produce 101”. Although it was only a guest role on the drama “The Flatterer” in 2015, this signalled the beginning of a successful acting career. Since that first part, she has played the main role in seven dramas, including “Poetry Story” and “Society Obsessed with Love” both in 2017, “Best Chicken” (2018), and “Ask Miss Shin” (2020). She has also landed a couple of supporting roles in films since her departure from the K-Pop industry, starring in “Moonlit Winter” and “Bank of Seoul” both in 2019.
IOI (Ideal of Idols) started their promotions as the outcome of yet another Mnet Girl Group reality survival show, “Produce 101”.
The concept of the show centered around the idea of selecting 101 girls from 46 Entertainment agencies, and putting them through a battery of trials. The audience would select the final 11 members to become the group Ideal of Idols (IOI).
The show premiered on Mnet on 21 January 2016, and ran until 1 April – Kim Sohye was selected to represent her agency at the time, Redline Entertainment. However, unlike many of the other girls on the show, she had absolutely no training and background in the K-Pop industry, having been solely focused on her acting career prior to the event. Despite this, Kim rocketed through the ranks to fifth place, so securing a position among the elite 11 that made up IOI. She was dubbed “Victory Fairy” to reflect her astonishing ascent.
In the final episode of the show, the group performed the song “Crush”, the same song that they were supposed to perform on their debut. However, their debut was delayed, and they decided to switch tracks and release an Extended Play (EP) instead of a singles album. The group eventually debuted on 4 May 2016 with their album “Chrysalis”.
Regardless of how successful the group itself was, they were almost immediately sabotaged when the Mnet vote manipulation scandal and subsequent investigation came to light. The allegations posited that it had not been the audience that selected the final members of the group as the show had claimed, but that the votes had been rigged by the producer of the show.
Once the producer admitted rigging the votes from all four seasons of the show, all the groups created by the “Produce 101” franchise came under intense scrutiny.
On 5 November 2015, it was announced that IOI would disband the following year, but would be continuing their promotions and performances until then. The group officially split-up on 31 January of 2017, and the performers went their separate ways. There was a brief period of hope for IOI’s fans when it was announced that they would be making a come back in October of 2019, but this fell through, as the Mnet Vote Manipulation Investigation was still in progress.
Posted by Kim SoHye on Thursday, September 29, 2016
While some of the other girls in the group decided to continue pursuing careers in the K-Pop industry, Kim Sohye decided to return to her roots and focus on her acting career.
Kim Sohye recognized the fact that her status as a K-Pop star would be a swift and efficient way of finding footing in business. After her appearance on “Produce 101”, she left Redhill Entertainment and founded her own management brand called S&P (Shark and Penguin) Entertainment. The recurring imagery and references to penguins in her business endeavors stems from her love of these creatures. In fact, she has somewhat of an obsession, collecting penguin themed items from jerseys, to stuffed animals, which earned her the nickname Penguin.
She also decided to proliferate the penguin theme when she opened Penguin Café in the Seocho District, which became a fan favorite almost immediately. For the opening of her Café, Kim had dozens of people queuing outside while she signed 100 autographs, and personally served the first hundred customers. Her celebrity status continues to draw customers, but the café is also known for its calming mood and aestheticism, as well as a broad range of penguin and IOI themed merchandise and collectibles.
Variety Shows and Television
In addition to her exploits as an actress, Kim Sohye has been appearing on variety shows from as early as 2009, when she was a guest on “You Hee Yeol’s Sketchbook”.
Despite IOIs short tenure as a group, they starred in a variety of shows throughout 2016, such as “IOI Standby”, “IOI Mysterious City”, “Lan Cable friends IOI”, and “IOI Amigo TV”.
Kim also made guest appearances in other shows in the “Produce 101” franchise, as well as hosting several shows herself – including “Wanna Play? GG” (2019), “One TOEIC” (2017), and “Game Show” (2016). It was also while she was on a variety show about dogs that she discovered her love of them. By the time of the second season of the show, she had convinced her parents to allow her to adopt a dog named Milk from the show.
Although she is extremely dedicated to the success of her café and acting career, Kim Sohye has found time for other things that she enjoys. While she admits that she seldomly does V-Lives anymore, and doesn’t post anything on YouTube, she has recently developed a love of Lego. This started when she received a Lego set of the Central Perk Café from the TV series “Friends”, her favorite US television show.
She is still in contact with some of the other ex-IOI members, and staunchly promotes and supports their career and achievements. She uses her café as a forum to connect with her fans, and even has a special mailbox in the café for her fanbase to send her letters.
Kim Sohye VLive! 😊#Sohye #KimSoHye
A live broadcast is now showing on V.https://t.co/SUb9rAXgXS
— #WekiMeki #NEW_RULES (@ProduceMaven) July 8, 2020
Unlike many K-pop stars and South Korean actresses, Kim Sohye has done very little to alter her natural appearance. To the best of public knowledge, she has never had any cosmetic procedures, and has never dyed her hair exotic colors. Kim has a very short hairstyle with a fringe and hair that tends to remain its natural black or a dark brown variant, on one occasion, red. She has a friendly smile and a slender build. She is 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, and weighs around 105lbs (48kg).
Net Worth and Salary
Kim Sohye has been careful not to leave the entirety of her income in the fickle hands of the entertainment industry, and has worked hard to establish herself in business. In addition to her multiple acting jobs, she draws a salary from both her management brand, S&P Entertainment, and her popular café, Penguin Café. As of late 2020, she has an estimated net worth of over $300,000.