[SUNNYISM] Sunny Intelligence
I’ve been thinking about Sunny, our Sunny a lot. I don’t think a lot of people fully appreciate just how special she is.
How would someone describe her?
Her lips should be insured by Lloyd’s of London?
She’s the goddess of cute?
She was raised by puppies?
She’s the niece of the boss?
She’s one of the girls?
She’s sass and spunk, confident, irrepressible, irresistible and fearless. But that doesn’t get at the true her. Yes, she is all that, but you have to understand, she’s smart. Sharp. Quick. Noonchi nuhma nuhma pala. (That’s Korean for, well, really good fast situational awareness.)
That intelligence informs her every motion and expression.
Being a celebrity in Korea is. . .difficult. Not to say that it’s a cakewalk elsewhere, but there is much greater freedom for people to be themselves. In Korea, the life of an idol is a high-pressure existence under a microscope. Every expression, gesture, word, pose, reaction and emotion is picked apart and read into. The question isn’t why someone would choose such a life, working and training years to gain standing and recognition? No, the question is, even with that level of scrutiny, how can idols be so misunderstood and underestimated when they leave so much of themselves open for anyone with eyes to see?
Koreans appreciate education as the great equalizer, and yet there is an understanding that money, especially old money trumps all. But unless one is blessed to have been born wealthy, its a grind from grade school on up to that most crucial of moments, that magical day when one’s fate is decided. That’s right, the college entrance exams. There’s nothing casual about that effort. It defines the life of the vast majority of youth in Korea. So, there is an arrogance, a seriousness, a gravitas to them. They believe that it’s a self-evident truth that people who would choose a different path are somehow unfit, that idols are idols because they couldn’t handle being students, that they might be gifted with physical talent, but lack in intelligence.
This is so wrong it should be funny, but it’s viciously hurtful at the same time and to kids that are working hard at pursuing their dreams.
This is as close to a fact as I know. To excel in ANY human endeavor, to be considered the best, you have to be intelligent. Of course many other factors apply but the foundation is intelligence, an active mentality that seeks perfection through constant effort, optimization, repetition and perseverance.
Consider the ancient Greeks. You know, democracy, medicine, a couple other things too, I’m sure. They revered physical achievement AS MUCH AS THEY DID SCHOLORSHIP. Because they knew that both required intelligence, discipline and unending sweat. They even took their respect for physical achievement and put together an event called the Olympics. You might have heard of that.
Idols are not dumb. The best idols are scary smart. Believe that.
I believe that Soshi is THE representative girl group. Personal preference aside, they’re the best by any objective measure, the elite. What does that say about the average intelligence of the group? Ever think about that? And within Soshi, would it surprise you if I said Sunny is probably one of the smartest? Do you think aegyo grows on trees? That’s endless hours of practice, study and comprehension of human nature. She knows how to affect you, she reaches into your psyche and plucks the strings at will.
Fearlessness? That’s her intelligence, recognizing that a lot of the things that people instinctively fear aren’t dangerous. Bugs? Chickens? Slimy fish? Bungee jumping? Still, it takes an iron will to overcome those instinctive reactions. Flat out, she’s too smart to let it get the better of her.
Her verbal acuity, the ease with which she communicates, from radio DJing or on variety shows is another reflection of her mental agility.
I saw an interview of her a while ago. She was asked why she’d only trained 9 months when the others had been in the SM trainee system for an average of five years before the debut. Nepotism? Being the niece of Lee Soo Man (the SM in SM Entertainment) had to have been a factor in her getting into Soshi, right? I don’t think so. She trained for five years with another company, and only when that company failed did she make the move. She could have been a nakasan from the start. Why was she NOT? She said no one knew who she was when she auditioned and that she was accepted on her own merits. I believe her because nothing else makes sense.
Even so, the exact details don’t matter. Because in nine months, Sunny did something that should have been impossible. She earned her spot. She wasn’t a dead weight that the others had to carry. She was accepted by the rest as an equal. Wonderful singer, sexy dancer, camera queen, wielding her mega cuteness with precision and skill, she fully became a Soshi. Do you think the average girl idol could have that? Really, imagine that. Blind luck? I don’t think so.
Now, reading the above, one could get the impression that I might think Sunny is a manipulator, using that intelligence coldly. Not at all. You only have to see her laugh once to know that it isn’t an act. Watch her laugh and you’ll see the real Lee Sunkyu. Her beautifully expressive mouth opens WIDE, her eyes disappear, and this explosively QUIET laugh bursts forth. If you don’t smile in return, if YOUR spirit isn’t lifted, you need to go see a mental health professional. Quickly.
What does it mean to be the smallest in a height conscious world. I think there are three basic responses. One, ignore it. That’s pretty much what Taeyeon did. She just relied on her confidence and talent, so yeah, she’s short, but no one, NO ONE thinks less of her. Two, challenge it. Become belligerent; refuse to be looked down upon, build barriers and sensitivity. This is a response of defensiveness. Or three, accept it, EMBRACE IT, embody all that being small is. Be the maknae in spirit, kiss with impunity everyone around you. Take a ‘weakness’ and make it your strength. That’s Sunnybunny.
In a group filled with beautiful women, beautiful TALL women, iconic wonders in their own right, she gets noticed, and by being successful, finding her niche, always aware of the where the camera is, she adds to the richness of the Soshi experience.