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Self-reliant female celebrities who built their fortunes and own their properties

Self-reliant female celebrities who built their fortunes and own their properties
PHOTO: Instagram/@dlwlrma, Instagram/@parineetichopra

The adage of men being the primary breadwinner or making the final decision on big-ticket assets, like properties, no longer holds these days.

It is likely that among many couples, the wife is footing a substantial amount of the monthly loan repayments for the house due to a more flourishing or financially rewarding career.

Not surprisingly, many single, self-reliant women have charted their careers, built fortunes, and owned their properties – like 39-year-old Vietnamese actress and entrepreneur Ly Nha Ky.

Who are they, how did they do it, and what have they bought?

Since March 8 is also International Women's Day, let's be inspired by how these accomplished Asian celebrities make their own fortunes and chart their respective home-ownership journeys.

South Korea's K-pop star IU

IU Korea K-pop homeowner properties
South Korean pop idol IU. PHOTO: Instagram/@dlwlrma

Twenty-nine-year-old Korean soloist and actress IU made multiple headlines in June last year when she spent US$11.7 million (S$16 million) on a lavish penthouse in Eterno Cheongdam, an upcoming high-end neighbourhood in Seoul.

The 20- storey luxury development, which features floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic views of the Han River, is set to become Korea's most expensive property. The development only has 29 units for sale.

The top floors of Eterno Cheongdam, called the "Super Pent", is expected to cost around US$26.5 million, which far surpasses the US$14.4 million that Penthouse Cheongdam (also known as PH129), the most expensive flat in Korea in 2021, sold for.

Her apartment at Eterno Cheongdam measures 244 sqm (2626 sq ft) and is reportedly purchased in February last year. It is probably paid fully in cash (loans for properties valued at 1.5 billion won [S$1.7 million] are banned).

Super Pent type Eterno Cheongdam
We're not sure which apartment type IU bought but judging by the Super-Pent Type apartment in Eterno Cheongdam, we'd imagined it would be just as luxurious. PHOTO:

As the Eterno Cheongdam will only be completed in September 2023, IU is currently staying in Raemian Caelitus in Yongsan district, which is valued at around US$2.6 million to US$3.3 million and is also famous for its Han River views.

In June 2019, she sold an 1862 sq ft villa in Bangbaedong which she bought in 2012 for 840 million won for 860 million won.

The K-pop idol, who is single, is a savvy property owner who also owns a commercial building (bought for 4.6 billion won) in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi province and a townhouse (worth 2.2 billion won) in Yangpyeong, also in the Gyeonggi province.

She also owns a 1,524 sqm parcel of land valued at about 800 million won, or US$647k.

Before achieving worldwide fame, IU came from humble beginnings.

At a young age, she and her brother had to move in with her grandmother due to her parents' financial difficulties. In the beginning, they stayed in a small room full of cockroaches. They later moved into a relative's house, where IU had to endure their verbal abuse.

Years later, when IU auditioned to enter the entertainment industry, she was continuously rejected by entertainment agencies. She was even scammed by a fake entertainment company that tricked her into sending them a huge sum of money.


This was especially heartbreaking because the money she lost was painstakingly saved by her grandmother who sold small accessories. However, IU persevered and was eventually accepted into LEON Entertainment. She made her debut in 2008 and gradually grew in fame and popularity.

The star has since written 50+ songs over the course of her career, acted in several K-dramas and shot advertisements for numerous top brands such as Sony Korea, Samsung, and Guess. She currently has a net worth of about US$31 million to US$45 million.

South Korea's 'Nation's First Love' Suzy Bae

Korean singer and actress Suzy Bae
Suzy Bae. PHOTO: Instagram/@skuukzky

Why invest in an apartment when you can… wait for it… invest in an entire building?

In 2016, 27-year-old Korean singer and actress Suzy Bae purchased a luxury building in the affluent district of Samseong, Gangnam for roughly US$3.7 million. She reportedly paid a deposit of US$200,000 with a bond of US$1.7 million and equity of US$1.8 million.

Originally built in 2012, the mixed-use development features a two-level basement and five floors above ground. The 1st, 2nd and 4th floors were originally studios, with the 3rd floor serving as a commercial space.

The star, also known as the nation's "first love", reportedly makes US$13,400 a month from rent. That's a return rate of 5.6 per cent per annum!

In 2020, due to increased development in the Samseong neighbourhood, the building's value was estimated to be around US$6.5 million (almost double the value Bae paid for the property). In the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, she was also reported to have reduced the rent for her tenants.

Suzy Bae's luxury building in Gangnam
The five-storey luxury building in Gangnam which Suzy Bae owns reportedly draws a monthly rent of about US$13,400. PHOTO: Korea

In 2020, she purchased a four-bedroom, three-bathroom, 4800 sq ft apartment in Nonhyeon-dong, Gangnam just for herself worth US$2.7 million. She reportedly said it would take about one week to clean the entire apartment.

She's also been known to be extremely filial. She converted her mum's snack bar into a cafe and opened a taekwondo academy for her father.

Suzy Bae, who is currently single, began her career in 2010 as the youngest member of the girl group Miss A.

The following year, she debuted as an actress in the television series Dream High (2011) which won her the Best Newcomer Actress and Best Couple Award at the KBS Drama Awards. She would later star in several other highly rated K-dramas, such as While you were sleeping, Vagabond and Start-up.

Due to her numerous endorsement deals, Suzy Bae has also earned the title of "CF Queen" (Commercial Film Queen). She currently has an estimated net worth of about US$30 million. Her latest single, Satellite, is a return to singing for her after a four-year hiatus.


India's Parineeti Chopra

Parineeti Chopra. PHOTO: Instagram/@parineetichopra

Well-known 33-year-old Bollywood actress Parineeti Chopra has a current net worth of US$8 million.

In 2016, she made her debut as a homeowner by purchasing a sea-facing home in a posh district in Mumbai's suburban area, Bandra. The plush 3400 sq ft flat with stunning views of the Arabian Sea is reportedly worth Rs 22 crores, which is nearly US$3 million.

The star hired celebrity interior designer Richa Bahl to help her transform the apartment into a home that fits her aesthetics and design sensibilities. Together, they designed her dream apartment: "A home with simplicity and style, a home which is largely monochrome with hints of colour".

parineeti chopra home ig post
An Instagram post from Parineeti Chopra during her Covid-19 quarantine at home. PHOTO: Instagram/@parineetichopra

Before she became an actress, Chopra used to be a public relations manager for Yash Raj Films.

After being inspired by acting during promotions for the movie Band Baaja Baaraat (2010), Chopra decided that acting was her true calling and left her job in the PR department of YRF to take acting classes.

Parineeti, who is currently single, later made her acting debut in the romantic comedy Ladies vs Ricky Bahl (2011) and has since starred in more than 10 Bollywood movies, including Shuddh Desi Romance (2013) and Kesari (2019).

In 2021, Chopra was the star in the Hindi film remake of The Girl On The Train, which was based on the Paula Hawkins novel and previously had Emily Blunt fronting a Hollywood film adaptation in 2016.


Hong Kong's Isabella Leong

Isabella Leong
Isabella Leon. PHOTO: Instagram/@isabella.leong

33-year-old Hong Kong actress Isabella Leong has an estimated net worth of US$50 million.

She owns two properties in Hong Kong and New York which were gifted to her by her billionaire ex, Richard Li, whom she had three sons with before their amicable split.

The combined value of these two properties is reportedly worth HK$200 million (S$34.9 million). Her 20,000 sq ft mansion in Hong Kong is said to be worth HK$85 million or US$10.9 million.

The luxurious home comes with a large swimming pool and is surrounded by plants for privacy. The interiors are adorned with expensive light fixtures and wooden floors.

Leong has posted pictures on Instagram of her children's birthday celebrations there. Other than the two homes for her and her sons to stay in, Leong refused to accept anything else from Li after their break-up in 2011.

Isabella Leong son's birthday party IG
Leong at her son Ethan's 10th birthday celebration. PHOTO: Instagram/@isabella.leong

Although she did not purchase the two properties for herself, Leong is still very much a self-made millionaire. She began her career as a child model when she was only 12 years old.

She later turned to singing and released her first album at age 16. From 2005 to 2007, she starred in several movies and was nominated for best actress in the 2007 Hong Kong Film Awards for the film Isabella (2006).

The following year, she made her Hollywood debut in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2008).

The capable, single mother has since appeared in other movies and TV reality shows, including Murmur of the Hearts (2015), Missbehaviour (2019), Love After Love (2020) and U Can U BiBi.

This article was first published in

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