K-pop, Mandopop and other Asian pop

Meet Sana from Twice – K-pop girl group’s fun-loving and ‘adorably blunt’ star

Twice are one of the most popular Korean girl bands, and the first to top the Billboard world album charts. Quirky Japanese group member Sana talks about her life, work and image and why her Korean hasn’t improved as she’s got older

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 8:33pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 January, 2019, 2:21pm

South Korean K-pop girl group Twice – one of the nation’s most popular female groups yet – are often referred to as the new Girls’ Generation. Both outfits have nine members, and both have broken records for album sales by girl groups in South Korea.

Where Girls’ Generation broke through as the first all-female K-pop group in 2009, with their international hit Gee, Twice are following up by becoming the first female K-pop act to hit the top of the US Billboard world albums chart, with their first studio album, Twiceagram, released last November.

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And just last month, Twice delighted fans further with the release of their latest EP, What is Love. The music video for the title track is full of pop culture nods and references, and Twice member Sana plays Uma Thurman’s character Mia from the film Pulp Fiction.

As one of three Japanese members of the group, Sana is best known for her quirky, outgoing personality. We take a look at her life so far.

Early life

Born Sana Minatozaki in Osaka, Japan, Sana is an only child. The 22-year-old is fluent in Japanese and Korean, and also speaks a bit of English.

After seeing the rise of girl groups such as Girls’ Generation, who at the time were hugely successful in Japan, Sana dreamed of joining a K-pop group as a singer and dancer. Her dream came true when she was recruited by K-pop conglomerate JYP Entertainment while still in middle school in Japan.

Her role in Twice

Full of energy, and famed for her bubbly personality, Sana is a vocalist and lead dancer in Twice. She first appeared on Sixteen, a 2015 reality-TV K-pop competition where 16 contestants vied for eight much-coveted spots in the group that would later become Twice. Sana was quickly selected for her skills and pop-star potential. The group later expanded into a nine-member band.

Her solo work

Sana debuted with Twice only three years ago, and so far hasn’t had much time to do her own thing. But with Twice one of South Korea’s most popular groups, Sana can be seen everywhere fronting products in ads for Lotte Duty Free, Pocari Sweat, Japan’s Ymobile, and South Korean shoe and cosmetics brands.

Her image

Sana is known as fun-loving, outgoing and cheerful. She often describes herself as clumsy, but still tries to have fun in the process. “To be honest, I don’t really have a sense of balance,” she said while attempting to free herself from a yoga swing during a reality TV programme.

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Sana is also good at doing impressions and joking around on variety TV shows. She dances on command and puts on a cute aegyo face when asked to.

In her words

“When I was a trainee, I couldn’t look in the mirror that much, since all I did was practise. Now, I spend a lot of time in the mirror getting my hair and make-up done. I’ve also been monitoring myself during photoshoots. Some days I look like a person, some days I look like an animal,” she told GQ Korea.

“I honestly think my Korean was better before I was in Sixteen [the reality TV show]. These days, my tongue keeps getting twisted, my pronunciation isn’t [as] good. It’s like my tongue keeps flipping. I don’t even know what my mouth is [trying] to say,” she also told GQ Korea.