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Steve Seung Jun Yoo (born December 15, 1976),[1][2] also known as his Korean name Yoo Seung-jun (Hangul: 유승준),[3] is a Korean-American singer and actor who became one of South Korea's most popular K-pop singers after his debut in 1997.[4] Yoo's singing career ended in 2002 when he was accused of evading South Korean mandatory military service by becoming a U.S. citizen.[5] He was subsequently banned from entering South Korea, becoming the only person in history to be banned from the country for acquiring another citizenship.[6] Since then, Yoo has been working as an actor in China.[7]

Steve Seung Jun Yoo
Also known asYoo Seung-jun
Born (1976-12-15) December 15, 1976 (age 42)
OriginSeoul, South Korea
  • Singer
  • actor
Years active1997–2002, 2006–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationYu Seung-jun
McCune–ReischauerYu Sŭngjun


Early lifeEdit

Yoo was 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: DebutEdit

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" ("나나나") 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 controversyEdit

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.


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.[8] 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.[9]

In February 2010, Yoo made his movie debut in Jackie Chan's Little Big Soldier as Prince Wen.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

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.[13]

In February 23, 2017, following a court hearing, Yoo lost his second and final appeal for having his entry ban lifted, and is no longer allowed to return to Korea, nor he is able to appeal his entry ban in the future.[14][15]

On July 11, 2019, The Korean Supreme Court sent Yoo’s previously closed case back to Seoul High Court. [16][17][18]


Studio albumsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
West Side N/A*
For Sale
  • Released: April 29, 1998
  • Label: Best Media
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Now Or Never
  • Released: April 15, 1999
  • Label: Baeksan Media
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Over And Over 1
Summit Revival
  • Released: November 24, 2000
  • Label: West Side Media
  • Formats: CD, cassette
  • Released: August 31, 2001
  • Label: West Side Media
  • Formats: CD, cassette
Rebirth of YSJ N/A
*Chart positions not available prior to 1998
"—" denotes album did not chart.

Extended playsEdit

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
Another Day

Compilations and live albumsEdit

  • 98 Live Album (1998)
  • New Release + English Version (1999)
  • All That Yoo Seung Jun (1999)
  • Gold Techno Remix (2000)
  • Hidden Story (2001)
  • Best & J Duet Collection (2001)
  • Yoo Seung Jun 2002 Live (2002)




Awards and nominationsEdit

Golden Disc AwardsEdit

Year Category Work Result
1997 Bonsang (Best Artist) Yoo Seung-jun Won
1999 Won
2000 Won

Mnet Asian Music AwardsEdit

Year Category Work Result
1999 Best Male Artist "Passion" (열정) Nominated
2000 Best Dance Performance "Vision" (비전) Nominated
2001 Best Dance Performance "Wow" Won
Best Male Artist Nominated

Seoul Music AwardsEdit

Year Category Work Result
2000 Bonsang (Main Prize) Yoo Seung-jun Won
2001 Won


  1. ^ ‘병역 회피’ 유승준, 강제 추방, KBS News
  2. ^ Cho, Jin-hyung (2017-02-13). "Fighting to be able to return home : After enlistment scandal, Steve Yoo is battling to come back to Korea". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  3. ^ "유승준 소개" [Yoo Seung-jun Profile]. Mnet (in Korean). Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  4. ^ Lee, Sun-young; Yoon, Sarah (2015-05-20). "[Newsmaker] Steve Yoo asks to be taken back". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2018-09-24.
  5. ^ Sung, So-young (2015-11-19). "Steve Yoo sues over Korea visa rejection". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  6. ^ "Singer Yoo Seung-jun protests lifetime entry ban". Yonhap News Agency. 2015-11-18. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  7. ^ Yang, Eun-kyoung (2017-02-24). "Korean-American Singer Stays Barred Over Draft Dodging". The Chosun Ilbo. Retrieved 2017-12-25.
  8. ^ Yoo Seungjun Vol. 7 - Rebirth of YSJ album info Archived November 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine Yesasia.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ 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
  11. ^ 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
  12. ^ Military Denies Report that Yoo Seung Jun's Ban from Korea Will Be Lifted Archived March 4, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Yoo Seung Joon gets on hands and knees to apologize for evading military service" Archived October 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Why a K-Pop Legend is No Longer Allowed Back in South Korea" "Nextshark". Retrieved October 25, 2017.
  15. ^ "Yoo Seung Joon loses second trial, forbidden to enter Korea" "". Retrieved October 25, 2017
  16. ^ “Entry ban on Korean American singer illegal: top court” “The Korea Herald”. Retrieved July 11, 2019
  17. ^ “K-pop star who avoided draft may be allowed to return home” “Channel News Asia”. Retrieved July 11, 2019
  18. ^ “Supreme Court rules against entry ban for Korean-American singer” “Yonhap News Agency”. Retrieved July 11, 2019
  19. ^ a b "K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean).
  20. ^ "98년 국내 음반시장 결산". Imaeil (in Korean). 1998. Archived from the original on 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  21. ^ "March-August 1998 Cumulative K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean). Archived from the original on 2001-09-23. Retrieved 2018-04-24.
  22. ^ "August 1999 K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  23. ^ "March 2000 K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  24. ^ "March 2001 K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  25. ^ "October 2001 K-Pop Album Sales Volume". Recording Industry Association of Korea (in Korean). Retrieved 2018-04-23.

External linksEdit