Just two years after debut, (G)I-DLE‘s Yuqi is captivating hearts and racking up achievements as part of her group. Of course, she’s overcome plenty of hardships to get there. Here’s the touching and unexpected story of how Yuqi went from being a child “genius” to becoming one of the biggest stars of her generation.
Yuqi was born Sòng Yǔ Qí on September 23, 1999 in Beijing, China.
She’s always been an only child, so there’s no doubt that she’s the apple of her parents’ eyes (just like she is with Neverlands!).
Plus, like every parent dreams of, Yuqi was very smart from a very young age.
In fact, she was so intelligent that she was accepted into one of the city’s most prestigious schools: Beijing 101 Middle School. Surrounded by China’s Old Summer Palace, the school is known for its exception study environment, which includes a 100,000-book library, a NASA-supported greenhouse, and five artificial lakes. Some of the other former alumni include China’s mayors and vice-presidents.
Yuqi’s school was reserved for the best and brightest students, with only the top 5% of applicants scoring places. But even amongst such a smart student body, Yuqi was still one of the most intelligent there. The school had 14 classes assigned by rank, and child genius Yuqi was in Class 1.
She once even managed to achieve the 2nd highest scores in her top-level class, beating out over 40 other students.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Yuqi was popular too. Female students looked up to her, and male students would always try to get her attention in gym class because she was so pretty. There are no surprises there, considering how beautiful Yuqi is today.
Naturally, given how smart Yuqi is, her parents wanted her to focus on her education. However, Yuqi’s true love had always been performing.
As a teen, she was proficient in a form of Chinese folk dance called Dai. She still remembers the moves to this day, showing off her routines on Dingo and JTBC‘s Knowing Bros.
She was (and still is) also skilled at playing the guzheng, a traditional Chinese instrument.
Music and performing ran through young Yuqi’s veins. And, since she looked up to K-Pop idols like Super Junior and HyunA, she had her heart set on becoming a K-Pop idol herself.
Thankfully, despite her parents’ skepticism, Yuqi was able to participate in a Cube Star World Audition in 2015, aged 16. And unsurprisingly, after great performances of CLC‘s “High Heels” and G.E.M‘s “Bubble”, Cube Entertainment gave the multitalented starlet a callback.
Of course, since Yuqi’s parents were against the whole idea, her road to trainee life wasn’t that easy. Yuqi once revealed she used to beg her parents to let her be an idol every day, crying when they refused to give in. In a guest appearance on a Hello Counselor last year, she told viewers she related to a girl whose dreams were ruined by her mother’s criticism. But, as Yuqi matured, she realized everything her parents said was out of love.
Eventually, likely upon seeing how talented their daughter is, Yuqi’s parents gave in. After passing her final audition in South Korea, Yuqi packed up her life in Beijing to become a full-time Cube Entertainment trainee.
Trainee life is never easy, but it’s even harder for foreign idols who arrive in Korea with a huge language and cultural barrier. Thankfully, Yuqi was surrounded by her loving future group mates. When Yuqi officially became a trainee in 2016, Soyeon, Minnie, and Soojin were already trainees. Shuhua joined from Taiwan a few months later, giving Yuqi a fellow Chinese-speaker to relate to, with Miyeon arriving in 2017.
Despite the language barrier, Yuqi came up to speed with her Korean very quickly—as expected of a child genius. Of course, she had a little help from her “Korean teacher”, It’s Okay to Not Be Okay’s Kim Soo Hyun. Yuqi said she loved his drama, My Love From The Star, so much, it helped her learn the language.
Yuqi was revealed to the public as a CUBE TREE trainee in August 2017, and early fans fell in love with her cute charm in an instant. Around the same time, she became a model for Rising Star Cosmetics alongside Minnie and Shuhua, making her one of the few idols to feature in a CF before debut.
And after years of hard work, homesickness, and the hardships of trainee life, Yuqi finally got to become the star she’d been dreaming of all along. (G)I-DLE debuted in May 2018 with “Latata” in, Yuqi serving as the group’s lead dancer, sub vocalist, sub rapper, and face of the group.
Since then, they group has become known across the world for their fierce talent and musical diversity. They’ve already racked up a staggering 20 awards, from Rookie of the Year in 2018 to Best Female Performance in 2020.
Meanwhile, Yuqi has broadened her horizons back to her home country too, scoring a regular hosting spot on Keep Running, the Chinese version of SBS‘s Running Man.
And as Yuqi grows into an even bigger star in Korea, China, and internationally, Neverlands can’t wait to grow alongside her.