For Le Sserafim, their personal stories make them ‘fearless’
Le Sserafim’s concept can be tricky to identify for newbie fans. From the surface, Sakura, Chaewon, Yunjin, Kazuha, and Eunchae fall among the girl crush trend in K-pop; but if you have a chance to know their individual stories, you would realize that their “fearless” brand revolves around them.
The spunky quintet’s name is an anagram of the phrase, “I’m Fearless,” where it portrays the desire of “being the best.” At face value, it’s safe to describe being fearless as the fierce girl boss who has her life together. Yet, many seem to forget that being fearless is embracing your past and present as you head to the future.
The same can be said about the members and their respective traits on- and off-stage. It doesn’t matter if you’re elegant, fierce, cute, innocent, or boyish. Fearless is about being unapologetically real, as long as you have the courage to claw towards victory — which Le Sserafim is all about.
Their story starts more than 10 years ago, when a 13-year-old Miyawaki Sakura joined J-pop group HKT48. She admitted to Weverse magazine in May 2022 that she didn’t know much about being an idol back then, but it seemed that the stars had aligned for her early on. “I knew I wanted to keep being an idol. I’ve found so much joy in the relationship with my fans. For the past 10 years, I’ve been an idol and I just thought about how I want to do as many performances as possible with them there,” she said.
Success is synonymous with Sakura as she shined in HKT48 and AKB48, and the world was waiting for her when she was part of IZ*ONE. Yet despite this, she remained hungry. She was envious in a good way because she knew she could be more.
It’s normal to seek greener pastures when you’ve reached your peak. But for Sakura, she was unapologetic in pursuing the idol path for the third and final time — which suits her debut teaser where she’s “fearless of stereotypes.”
“People can’t always stick to the same thing, and their capacity for expressing themselves and the things they can say will change based on how old they are,” Sakura stated. “I think the fact that I keep challenging myself makes me cool, plus I think trying new things is the only way to keep growing.”
The same thing can be said for Kim Chaewon, the group’s leader, where her journey is about redefining how the world sees her, but on her own terms. She was initially seen as a trainee who “lacked emotions” in “Produce 48” until she became one of the shining forces in IZ*ONE’s music. But history repeated itself when she was confirmed as a member of Le Sserafim.
Many outsiders knew her as the cute and lovely member of IZ*ONE, but she knows that she is way more than that. “I wanted to challenge myself, rather than take the safe way and keep myself from the things I want to do,” she told Weverse magazine.
Chaewon’s hardships were worth it. What emerged from her lovely image was a confident woman who knew what she wanted. “I found out I had it in me to pull off the look, and I really liked that new side of me and felt proud about it. I think it’s a natural reflection of my feeling of making a new start for myself,” she said.
Despite the risk of losing fans, the stirring desire of proving to be a chameleon did not faze her. “I felt like I truly found my true self when I was preparing for the debut of Le Sserafim. I’m really thankful that a lot of people are seeing this in a positive way. But I don’t have a preference. I don’t prefer either — I just like the way I was before, and I still like the way I am now,” she told Teen Vogue.
Meanwhile, Huh Yunjin dedicated four years of her life to training in South Korea to become a singer. The New York-native, who suffered the brunt of negative criticism during “Produce 48,” remained hungry to prove herself that she had what it takes.
“At first, since I was working hard, I got lots of compliments and I was told that I was improving so much. But as time passed, it turned from ‘She works hard’ to ‘She works hard but lacks appeal,’” she admitted in the group’s debut documentary. Following her “Produce” stint, she returned to training in Pledis Entertainment, but with an uncertain future.
Understandably so, she was ready to give up. But fate had other plans. And eventually, took charge of the quintet’s vocals, songwriting, and production. The four-year journey sprouted a new desire in her, to fearlessly “change the idol industry.”
“Rather than following the strict standards for idols, I want to break them down one by one,” Yunjin told Weverse magazine. “Of course, you have to behave in front of a camera, but I want to create the kind of environment where I can express myself a little more openly rather than have to conceal the real me when I’m on camera.”
Armed with her newfound desire, she confidently declared, “Because I know myself better than anyone else.”
On the other hand, Nakamura Kazuha’s pre-debut revolved around her ballet career which spanned until her childhood. Her pointe shoes might have set her for life, but she chose to take the road of experiencing the K-pop industry.
“I love music and dancing on stage and it makes me so happy, and I dreamed of becoming an idol because I wanted to work in Korea, but I started having certain feelings after being a trainee and having a chance to experience K-pop indirectly,” she shared to Weverse magazine.
Of course, it had been an emotional journey for her, as seen in scenes of her crying during training, in the group’s documentary. Yet she believes that giving strength and positivity to her fans matter the most.
“Even when I did ballet, I wanted to be the kind of person who could give strength, positivity and an emotional experience to lots of people. I’m taking a different path now, being a K-pop singer, but I still feel the same way,” Kazuha pointed out. “I want to be the kind of artist who always feels that way and gives strength to a lot of people through our performances and our music.”
From the surface, Hong Eunchae is the quintessential K-pop maknae or youngest member. She’s bright and endearing, yet what made her the final ingredient to Le Sserafim’s fearless’ identity is her determination to prove that she doesn’t pale in comparison to her established bandmates.
“When we started out, some of the other members were already so famous, and Zuha had her secret weapon — ballet. So I felt like I had nothing special to offer, and I kept worrying about what to do, but I’ve been putting in a lot of effort,” she said in a Weverse interview.
It hasn’t been easy to be a 16-year-old in an ever-growing industry. But being a K-pop idol has eventually eased into her, as she is becoming a formidable individual as well. “It’s not easy, but now I’m trying to think, This is me. I am me,” she said.
As the girl group marked its first anniversary, Eunchae has re-angled her sights into Le Sserafim’s bright future as she hoped to be a “really energetic and cheerful artist for the fans.”
Just like the chant of their comeback single “Unforgiven,” Le Sserafim has entered their “villain” era in their first year. They don’t need the world to remind them of what kind of female artists they are. The quintet can do it themselves.
“We don’t need any forgiveness through the lyrics, which means that we don’t have to be defined by other people’s words or judgments,” Chaewon said during their comeback showcase last May 1, per The Korea Herald.
The competition in K-pop might be tight as ever but this doesn’t faze Le Sserafim. Each member has something to bring to the table, and aren’t seeking forgiveness in their past. The feminist icons believe they have what it takes — and they’re fearless of what lies ahead.
“Regardless of what people think, or regardless of people’s prejudices, we’re going to conquer,” Yunjin boldly told Teen Vogue. EDV