Who Is the Leader of Red Velvet?

In K-pop, it takes much more than strong visuals to succeed, but they sure do help. SM Entertainment’s Red Velvet has especially strong visuals among its five beautiful members, in addition to talent to spare and an ability to conquer virtually any concept. As such, from a distance, it may not be easy to guess who the leader of the group might be. Among Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy, and Yeri, here is the answer to who the leader of Red Velvet is and how she is an effective leader.

Irene Is the Leader of Red Velvet

Not only is Irene the oldest member of Red Velvet by nearly three years, but she is also often hailed as the most popular visual of third-generation K-pop girl groups. In these ways, it’s rather fitting that Irene is also the leader of the group. However, Red Velvet fans are also passionate about listing the ways that Irene genuinely excels in the role, in ways large and small. In fact, there are too many examples to describe in depth here.

But to select a choice few, in a November 2016 episode of Laundry Day, Joy explained that Irene “always tells us what is wrong quietly and listens to our opinion. She keeps the peace of our group.” Seulgi elaborated on how Irene invited the Red Velvet members to speak freely at the time of the group’s debut: “Because our training years were different, there were things we couldn’t say. But she said regardless of that, since we’re now a team starting anew together, let’s say everything.”

On a more intimate level, Irene has also expressed affection and concern for her members in various ways. For instance, in the final episode of Level Up! Project season 1 published in September 2017, Irene explained that she felt bad that Joy could not be with the rest of the members to film the show, (Joy was filming a drama.) so Irene had left a Post-It note on Joy’s door before leaving to let her know she was thinking about her. There is also a cute moment from January 2019 in which Irene hugged a cold Seulgi tightly for a prolonged period to warm her up at the airport. And according to Yeri, Irene would even iron Yeri’s clothes for her when she was still a student. In these assorted ways, Irene is a legitimately great leader for Red Velvet.

Irene is the leader of Red Velvet at SM Entertainment
Irene is the leader.

Although, it is worth noting that Irene had a controversy in October 2020 in which a fashion editor called her out on Instagram for verbally abusing her, for which Irene apologized for her “foolish attitude and careless words and actions.” In March 2022, flight attendants on the Korean employee community Blind also claimed Irene had exhibited poor behavior at airlines and/or on a flight, with one attendant going so far as to say that “Yeri, Joy, and Irene were freaking rude” and “treated flight attendants as if they were servants.” However, Seulgi and Wendy were “nice.” The October 2020 incident had a negative effect on Irene’s reputation for a time, but she seemed to recover from it and would resume receiving various brand sponsorship opportunities. In general, Red Velvet maintains a strong reputation despite these mild controversies.

Now you know who the leader of Red Velvet is and how Irene is especially effective at taking care of her members, even if she has weathered a bit of controversy in the past. For more about the group, check out how old the Red Velvet members are now or what their MBTIs are, or refresh yourself on when the group originally debuted. Or for another strong SM Entertainment leader, check out who the leader of Aespa is, who is also one of the strongest visuals of her generation.

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