This week, Red Velvet treated their staff to lovingly prepared meals in “Queendom Restaurant,” a two-part YouTube series in which the members gave back to those who’ve been working hard for them. Naturally, the staff had plenty of stories to share about the Red Velvet members—including hairstylist Soon Yi, who had the sweetest memory of Irene from years gone by.
While the Red Velvet members and their staff were reliving their memories of the group’s Japanese concert tour, hairstylist Soon Yi suddenly remembered a story from when she first began working with Red Velvet. Soon Yi and the rest of the Soonsoo salon staff have been styling the group for years, but her trip to Japan with them was her first “business trip” for Red Velvet.
Soon Yi went on to reveal that the special memory took place when she arrived back in Korea with the group. “Irene and I weren’t very close back then,” she recalled, but that didn’t stop the Red Velvet leader from making a totally sweet gesture towards the hairstylist. “[Irene] came to me saying, ‘Ssaem~’,” says Soon Yi ; ssaem is a shortened version of the Korean word for “teacher,” which is used as a term of respect towards professionals.
Soon Yi admits she was “so embarrassed” to receive Irene’s attention at first because fans around them were snapping pictures of the members. “But she came to me,” says the stylist, “and everyone looked at me.” Then, when Soon Yi asked Irene “What’s up?” Irene proceeded to give her a gift.
Irene looked surprised as Soon Yi told the story, confessing, “Did I do that? I can’t remember.” The hairstylist joked that Irene’s memory must be faltering because she “got older,” but went on to reveal just how sweet the leader’s gift towards her must be. “It’s my favorite thing,” Soon Yi revealed, adding, “I always buy it when I’m in Japan.”
[Irene] said, ‘Ssaem~ I bought it for you.’ I opened it and saw…
— Soon Yi
The gift was toe socks! As soon as Soon Yi reminded Irene of the gift, she instantly remembered the story herself. While the members were cracking up at the thought of Irene’s unusual gift choice, Soon Yi shared her own feelings on the memory.
It wasn’t even funny; it was so… touching.
— Soon Yi
This isn’t the first time Soon Yi has shared her honest feelings about Irene’s personality. Last October, along with several other Soonsoo stylists, Soon Yi uploaded an Instagram post defending Irene’s character against attitude accusations and asking others to refrain from judging her based on one interaction.
It’s also not the first time Irene has been known to treat those who work with her to thoughtful gifts. In the past, she’s gifted Red Velvet’s dancers with luxury pajamas and slippers, immune-strengthening vitamins, handwritten letters, and even eight sets of Apple AirPods Pro headphones.