Yoo Seung-jun

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Yoo.
Yoo Seung-jun
Native name 유승준 (劉承俊)
Birth name Yoo Seung-jun
Also known as Steve Yoo
Born (1976-12-15) 15 December 1976 (age 40)
Origin Seoul, South Korea
Genres K-pop, R&B, dance, urban, hip hop
Occupation(s) singer, dancer, model
Years active 1997–2002, 2006–present
Labels Westside Media
Yoo Seung-jun
Hangul 유승준
Hanja 劉承俊
Revised Romanization Yu Seungjun
McCune–Reischauer Yu Sŭngjun

Yoo Seung-jun, 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 Seung-jun's career in South Korea ended in 2002 due to controversies around his mandatory military service.[1] He was known for his high-energy dancing style, rapping, and singing ability. He is also known to be the first high-profile overseas Korean person to have avoided military service in Korean history.

While banned from South Korea, he has since begun an acting career in China.

Early life[edit]

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 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.


1997: Debut[edit]

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. In the video, it featured actress Choi Ji-woo, who played as the internship teacher while he played as the troublesome student. 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". Later that year, Yoo released his fourth album, "Over and Over," which contained the hit single "Vision."


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. He also released music videos for two of his Korean songs that year for "찾길 바래" (Wish you could find) & "어제 오늘 그리고" (Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow), the latter showing off a more sophisticated image.


In 2001, he released the single "Wow" from his 6th album "Infinity." Though considered a bit of a disappointment, critically and commercially, compared to his last three albums, "Infinity" 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.

2002: Banishment controversy[edit]

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.[2]


He now resides in Beijing, China.[citation needed]

In 2006, he was featured on rapper H-Eugene's song "독불장군" (Single Person). The song's music video didn't show Yoo's face, but shows him dancing and his silhouette.

In 2007, he released his seventh album Yoo Seungjun Vol. 7 - Rebirth of YSJ for his fans who stood by him through the highs and lows of his career. The album was produced under the collaboration of production teams from the U.S., China, and Korea.[3] He released 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, Yoo signed a 15-year contract with Jackie Chan's entertainment management company to become an actor. He has since attempted to establish a name for himself in mainland China, while continuing his singing and acting career.[1]

In February 2010, Yoo made his movie debut in Jackie Chan's Little Big Soldier as Prince Wen.[4]

In December 2013, rumor had it that the ban on Yoo had been lifted and that he would be able to enter Korea. But in January 2014, the Military Manpower Association released a statement flatly denying the allegation.[5]

In 2015, it was announced that Yoo will appear in the film Dragon Blade.

In May 19, 2015, Yoo appeared in a video where he opened up on his side of the story regarding his evading military service back in 2002. He appeared getting down on his hands & knees begging to be accepted back into Korea promising that he'll "do whatever it takes" and that he'll accept any condition the Korean government allows.[6]



  • 1st - WEST SIDE (1997)
  • 2nd - 1998 V2 for SALE (1998)
  • 3rd - Now Or Never (1999)
  • 4th - OVER AND OVER (1999)
  • Gold Techno Remix (2000)
  • 5th - Summit Revival / 고지탈환 (2000)
  • 6th - Infinity (2001)
  • Promise to Jun (2006)
  • 7th - "Rebirth of YSJ" (2007)



Mnet Asian Music Awards[edit]

Year Category Work Result
2000 Best Dance Performance "Vision" (비전)[7] Nominated
2001 "Wow"[8][9] Won
Best Male Artist Nominated

Music show awards[edit]

These are a collection of Yoo Seung-jun's wins on Korea's televised music shows.


Year Date Song
1998 June 7 "Na Na Na"
June 14
June 21
June 28
August 2
1999 May 9 "Passion"
May 16
May 30
June 6
July 11 "Sad Silence"
December 19 "Vision"
December 26
2000 January 2
February 13 "Love Song"
February 20
December 24 "I'll Be Back"
2001 January 7
January 14
October 7 "Wow"
October 14
October 21

Music Bank[edit]

Year Date Song
1998 June 18 "Na Na Na"
June 25
July 2
1999 April 15 "Passion"
April 22
April 29
May 6
May 13
May 20
July 1 "Sad Silence"
July 8
July 15
December 9 "Vision"
December 16
December 23
2000 January 6
January 13
January 20
January 27
December 21 "Wish You Could Find"
December 28
2001 January 4


  1. ^ a b Bae Guk-nam (배국남). "Why is the public still mad at Yoo Seung-jun?(유승준에 왜 대중은 여전히 분노할까?)" (in Korean). MyDaily. Archived from the original on 2009-06-20. 
  2. ^ Seo, Ji-eun "Steve Yoo isn’t coming back to Korea" Archived January 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Joongang Daily. 20 October 2011. Retrieved 2011-11-08
  3. ^ Yoo Seungjun Vol. 7 - Rebirth of YSJ album info Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Yesasia.
  4. ^ Young, Al "Jackie Chan + Three Guys + Horse = BIG SOLDIER" Archived August 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Twitch Film. 9 April 2009. Retrieved 2011-11-08
  5. ^ Military Denies Report that Yoo Seung Jun’s Ban from Korea Will Be Lifted Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ "Yoo Seung Joon gets on hands and knees to apologize for evading military service" Archived October 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. ^ "2000 MMF part 1". MAMA. Retrieved 2014-06-25.
  8. ^ "2001 M.net Korean Music Festival Winners list" Archived October 9, 2014, at the Wayback Machine.. MAMA. Retrieved 2014-06-12.
  9. ^ "2001 MMF part 1". MAMA. Retrieved 2014-07-23.

External links[edit]