Yoo (Korean surname)

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Yu or Ryu
유 or 류
Revised RomanizationYu or Ryu
McCune–ReischauerYu or Ryu

Yu or Yoo, or sometimes Ryu or Ryoo, is the English transcription of several Korean surnames written as or in hangul. As of 2000, roughly a million people are surnamed Yoo in South Korea, making up approximately 2% of the population. Of those, the most common is Ryu (Hanja: , Hangul: ),[1] with more than six hundred thousand holders, whereas Yoo (Hanja: , 余 Hangul: ) accounts for about one hundred thousand.

The family name Yoo can be represented by any of the four hanja: (), , and , each with a different meaning. In Korean, the characters and refer to (Yoo) or (Ryu) and are spelled as such because of the first initial sound rule (두음 법칙) in Korean, whereas the characters and refer only to (Yoo). Some of these characters are used to write the Chinese surnames Liu ( or ) and Yu(,余).

Notable (Ryu) clans include the Munhwa Ryu clan and the Pungsan Ryu.


In Korea, the Yoo lineage traces to the Xia, Han, and Joseon dynasties. Holders of the surname Yoo had a reputation for charity and diligence.

The largest Ryu (which is a separate clan from Yoo, but pronounced differently), the Munhwa Ryu,[2] was founded by a man named Ch’a Tal. Ch’a's fifth great-grandfather had been involved in an attempt to overthrow the Silla king. To avoid prosecution, the ancestor fled to Munhwa and changed his surname, first to that of his maternal grandmother, Yang, and then to Ryoo. Many years later, Ch’a Tal assisted Wang Kŏn to establish the Koryŏ Kingdom. Ch’a was recognized for his support and was rewarded accordingly. However, the historic claims that the Ch'a clans are derived from the same progenitor as Ryu Ch'a-dal have been disproven. The Munhwa Ryoo clan, along with the Andong Kwŏn clan, possess one of Korea's oldest clan genealogies. Only the character is commonly pronounced Ryu or Ryoo (). (See Munhwa Ryoo) The surname "Ryu" comes from the character meaning willow tree. Hence, the lineage is also sometimes called "willow Ryu" (버들 류씨).

Notable people (historic)[edit]

Notable people (contemporary)[edit]

Arts & entertainment[edit]

Painters & sculptors[edit]

  • Yoo Young-ho (born 1965), South Korean sculptor
  • Yoo Youngkuk (1916—2002), South Korean artist in Korea's postwar art history (pioneer of Korean abstract art and Korean modern art)


Authors, illustrators, novelists, poets[edit]

  • Yu Anjin (born 1941), South Korean poet
  • Yoo Hyeonjong, South Korean novelist
  • Yoo Ja-hyo (born 1947), South Korean broadcaster and poet
  • Yoo Jae-yong (1936–2009), South Korean novelist
  • Yoo Juhyun (1921-1982), South Korean novelist
  • Yoo Yeong, (1917–2002) South Korean literary scholar, translator, and poet
  • David Yoo (born 1974), Korean-American fiction writer
  • Miri Yu (born 1968), Zainichi Korean playwright, novelist, and essayist
  • Taeeun Yoo, South Korean picture book author and illustrator who is active in the United States
  • Yoo Eun-Sil, South Korean author of children’s literature



Sports management[edit]


  • Yoo Byung-eun (1941–2014), South Korean businessman, inventor, and photographer

Government & politics[edit]


Modeling & pageantry[edit]

  • Yoo Ye-bin, South Korean beauty pageant titleholder who was crowned Miss Korea 2013 and represented her country at the Miss Universe 2014 pageant
  • Jae Yoo, South Korean model

Science & technology[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ A rank 19th with 603,084 people, KOSTAT (Korea National Statistical Office), 2000.
  2. ^ "버들 유(류)씨 60여만명 최다… '삼한갑족' 명성 이어와". Segye Ilbo (in Korean). 2014-04-22. Retrieved 2024-01-08.

External links[edit]