Sunmi recently opened up about the struggles of working to support her family as a teenager.
Sunmi did her first-ever English interview with the podcast, Spotify: Mic Check. During her interview, she spoke about her entire career history, including her time with the Wonder Girls, her illustrious solo career, and her time as a trainee at JYP Entertainment.
While many trainees decide to pursue a career as a K-Pop idol solely because of their passion for music or dance, that sadly was not the case for Sunmi. Although she is undoubtedly a naturally talented musician and performer, she ultimately decided to become a trainee so that she could help her family through an extremely difficult time.
Sunmi lived with her single father and her younger brothers as a child. When she was 12, her father was diagnosed with lung cancer and admitted to the hospital. Her dad was the sole provider for the family, so Sunmi realized that someone else would have to earn money to support the family if he couldn’t. She told Spotify: Mic Check, “We had no one who could work to earn money. I also have 2 younger brothers. Before everything else, they are the most precious ones in my life. So, I thought I had to protect them even at a young age.”
She said, “I was the only one who could work to survive. So, I started to think about what I could do to make money right away. The people who knew that I was going through suggested that I become a teacher.” Sunmi knew it would take many years for her to become a teacher, so she had to think of another plan.
That year, JYP Entertainment announced that they were currently holding auditions for their upcoming girl group. Sunmi said, “When I was 13, I took the bus to Seoul by myself for almost 5 hours to audition for JYP. Fortunately, I passed the audition. After becoming a trainee, I started living in Seoul. At the time, my younger brothers had to take care of my sick father instead of me.”
Sunmi’s hard work paid off, and she debuted with the Wonder Girls. Unfortunately, her father passed away 3 months before her debut, so he did not get to see his daughter become a K-Pop idol.
Sunmi has remained close with her younger brothers throughout her entire life. She said, “I’ve been always grateful and grateful to my younger brothers. They make me move forward, so whenever I go through hard times, I can get it over soon. They are always on my side and support me a lot. I love them. They mean everything to me.”