He was born in Seoul, in what is now South Korea. He achieved early success as a government official, but his straightforward character made enemies at court and he was banished for imprudent criticism of those in power. Thirteen years later he returned to become tutor to the royal princes but was later banished again. He spent most of his 85 years in his rustic country home, contemplating the nature of life, teaching and writing poetry.
Yun is considered the greatest master of the sijo form in Korean literature. His most famous composition is The Fisherman's Calendar a cycle of forty seasonal sijo. In both Chinese and Korean classical poetry, the fisherman symbolized a wise man who lives simply and naturally. In art, the fisherman appeared almost invariably in one of the most common genres of Asian water colors: sets of four paintings, one for each season of the year.
Yun Seondo wove both traditions into The Fisherman's Calendar. It is the longest and most ambitious sijo cycle attempted during the classical period of his life.