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Yoo Seungjun, also known as Steve Yoo, is a former Korean American pop star and one of the biggest selling artists in Korean history, selling over 5 million records in the country. Yoo Seungjun's career in South Korea ended in 2002 due to controversies around his mandatory military service. He was known for his high-energy dancing style, rapping, and singing ability.
Yoo born on December 15, 1976, in Seoul, South Korea. His family moved to the United States when he was thirteen and settled in Buena Park, California. He now resides in Beijing, China. He made demo tapes of his rapping and dance skills and sent these to Brothers Entertainment, where he was eventually scouted and left California to start his career as a singer.
Yoo made his Korean debut as a singer in 1997. His first album West Side was a hit with the debut single "Gaui" ("gaui" is the Korean word for "scissors" - in this context it translates to "nightmare" as Koreans use the word to describe the rigid sleep paralysis which sometimes accompanies bad dreams). Along with another single "I love you Noona", he won Best Newcomer of the Year in many award ceremonies. Yoo gained popularity with his signature dance move of "Gawi", in which he and his backup dancers lined up diagonally to perform the same moves in unison. West Side ended up selling a million records. In the summer of 1998, he released second album 1998 V2 for SALE with "Na Na Na" as its lead song, where it and the music video topped the charts. Many consider this album as the most successful of his career, as it won him Best Artist of the Year in multiple award ceremonies. The album again sold 1 million records. In 1999, he went on to release his third album Now Or Never, which contained the hit single "Passion". During this time, he began to expand his career into China and Taiwan, with the release of single "Can't Wait", which was a collaboration with Taiwanese singer Yuki. Now or Never topped the Korean charts with first week sales of 879,000 albums sold. Setting a record for the highest first week sales ever at the time. The album eventually sold close to 1.5 million units. In 2001, he released the single "Wow" from the album "Over and Over." Though considered a bit of a disappointment, critically and commercially, compared to his last three albums, Over and Over still managed to debut at number 1 on the charts with first week sales of 359,961 albums sold. The album has sold over 600,000 copies.
Yoo had repeatedly stated on television that he would fulfill his mandatory military service. But in 2002, just before he was to be drafted, he became a naturalized U.S. citizen. As a result, the South Korean government considered it an act of desertion, and deported him, permanently banning him from entering the country. In 2011, in response to an announcement by South Korean television network Seoul Broadcasting System, on holding a public vote on whether Koreans think Yoo should be allowed to come back to Korea, he stated that he has no plans to return.
In 2007, he released his 7th album Yoo Seungjun Vol. 7 - Rebirth of YSJ produced specifically in mind for fans who stood by him through the highs and the lows of his career. The album was produced under the collaboration of production teams from U.S., China, and Korea. He released various singles such as "Missing U", "Breakin' Love", "One For Me", and "Fireworks".
He earned a role in an untitled Taiwanese drama loosely based on Bret Easton Ellis's novel Less Than Zero. In June 2008, Steve Yoo signed a 15-year contract with Jackie Chan's entertainment management company to become an actor. He has since been attempting to establish a name for himself in Mainland China, while continuing his singing and acting career.