All About Yoo Seung-joon: Full Profile and The Truth Behind His Banishment

Find Out More About South Korean Singer Yoo Seung-joon

Steve Seung Jun Yoo, born on December 15th, 1976, also known by his Korean name Yoo Seung-joon (Hangul: 유승준), is a Korean-American singer and actor who became one of South Korea’s most popular K-Pop singers after making his debut back in 1997. Yoo Seung-joon’s singing career ended in 2002 when he was accused of evading the South Korean mandatory military service by becoming a U.S. citizen. He was subsequently banned from entering South Korea, becoming the only person in history to be banned from the country for acquiring citizenship from another country. However, since then, Yoo Seung-joon has been working as an actor in China.

Yoo Seung-joon’s Profile
Name Steve Seung Jun Yoo
Korean Name Yoo Seung-joon (유승준)
Date of Birth December 15, 1976
Origin Seoul, South Korea
  • Singer
  • Actor
Years Active
  • 1997 – 2002
  • 2006 – Present
Spouse(s) Christine Oh (m. 2004)
  • Yoo Ji-ahn
  • Yoo Ji-hyo

Yoo Seung-joon’s Career

Yoo Seung-joon made his Korean debut as a singer in 1997. His first album West Side became a big 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 the Best Newcomer of the Year award on many award ceremonies. Yoo Seung-joon gained popularity with his signature dance move “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 copies.

In the summer of 1998, he released the second album 1998 V2 for SALE with “Na Na Na” as its title song, where both the song and the music video topped the charts. The music video featured actress Choi Ji-woo, who played the role of an internship teacher, while he played the role of a troublesome student. Many consider this album as the most successful of his career, as it won him the Best Artist of the Year award on multiple award ceremonies. The album again sold 1 million copies.

In 1999, he went on to release his third album Now Or Never, which contained the hit single “Passion.” Later that year, Yoo Seung-joon released his fourth album, Over and Over that contained the hit single “Vision.”

During this time, he began to expand his career into China and Taiwan, with the release of the single “Can’t Wait,” where he collaborated with Taiwanese singer Yuki. The album Now or Never topped the Korean charts with first-week sales of 879,000 copies. Setting a record for the highest first-week sales ever at the time. The album eventually sold close to 1.5 million copies. He also released music videos for two of his Korean songs that year, namely for “찾길 바래” (Wish you could find), and “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 launch at number 1 on the charts with first-week sales of 359,961 copies. The album has sold over 600,000 copies.

Up until this point in time, Yoo Seung-joon 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.

Yoo Seung-joon Avoided Compulsory Mandatory military Service

For Korean men who are physically and mentally healthy, conscription is a must. Not least celebrities, both actors, members of the K-Pop boy bands, songwriters, and politicians. They are all obliged to undergo military training in preparation just in case South Korea is suddenly attacked by North Korea.

For many people, compulsory military service is the stage in life that brings you closer to becoming a real man. Apart from that, it is proof of patriotism and there is a sense of pride for those who undergo military service, especially active duty.

In addition to gaining pride as a real man and self-confidence, compulsory military service also makes Korean men who happen to undergo their conscript together become more confident. Nobody said military service was easy. But unfortunately, many do not want to undergo the rigors of military training and even look for ways not to be conscripted. A South Korean celebrity, the singer Yoo Seung-joon, successfully managed to avoid the Military Service.

Yoo Seung-joon a.k.a Steven Yoo is now considered to be an American idol who debuted in 1997. He once announced that he would undergo two-year conscription as most South Korean men do. But in 2002, before starting his military service he changed his citizenship and became a citizen of the United States, which eventually enabled him to avoid the army. In the end, Yoo Seung-joon was deported and banned in South Korea. In 2015, he appeared in a broadcast on AfreecaTV telling the background story of the issue and pleading to be permitted to return to South Korea again.

Yoo Seung-joon Apologizes For Avoiding the Military Service While Crying

Regret always comes last. It seems that this is what was felt by singer Yoo Seung-joon a.k.a Steve Yoo. Because of his decisions in the past, he is now unable to return to South Korea after being permanently deported on the grounds of desertion.

Yoo Seung-joon said that he was sorry for his lack of action when he got a call for enlisting the military. At that time he preferred doing a concert in Japan and flying to America for an interview for becoming Uncle Sam’s citizen.

Thirteen years have passed, and for the first time, he ventured to discuss this via Afreeca TV. The actor that starred in Man of Taichi apologized while kneeling on the floor. Yoo Seung-joon apologized while lamenting,

“I don’t know what to say, everything is empty. I apologize to all Koreans,” he said. “If I can go back to the past, I will fulfill my compulsory military service. I didn’t expect it to be very big. I didn’t think twice before.”

Now, Yoo Seung-joon won’t refuse to enter the military again. However, he is already 39 years old. In fact, the maximum limit for Korean men to enter the army is 38 years.

“Last July I wanted to register for the army after giving up the American citizenship. But I was 38 years old. Jackie Chan and another friend said that was the only way for me to go back,” he added, crying. “But it turned out that the army was recruiting only those born in the 80s and I was born in 1976.”

Nevertheless, he also refused to be called a liar and talked about his decision to leave Korea. “It was very difficult to enter the U.S. and become an American citizen. Especially, after the 9/11 incident,” he recalled. “At that time I got an interview call and my father said that it would be very selfish not to go.”

Yoo Seung-joon Continues To Beg To Be Allowed To Enter South Korea Again

The fourth meeting between Yoo Seung-joon and the Los Angeles consulate was held on August 12th. Yoo Seung-joon is a South Korean celebrity who avoided his obligation to enter the military service by obtaining American citizenship which ultimately resulted in him no longer being allowed to visit South Korea. However, now he is trying to change that and wants to be able to return to South Korea.

At the meeting, as reported by Allkpop, Yoo Seung-joon’s side said, “He has no intention of accepting the status of an American citizen to avoid his obligation to do military service. He did the process of obtaining his citizenship status not because of that.” Meanwhile, the Los Angeles consulate said, “He tried to get his citizenship status to coincide before he undertook military service. The statement saying that he did it not to avoid conscription was very unreasonable.” Yoo Seung-joon’s side then stated, “As expected, he regretted what he did at the time. He feels guilty for disappointing Korean people. This lawsuit is not about citizenship but it controls him who wants to be allowed to return to Korea.”

Regarding the suspicious and tax negative comments aimed at his appearance on Afreeca TV, to express his apologies earlier, Yoo Seung-joon’s side stated, “We are very sorry Yoo Seung-joon gets criticized for rumors that have no truth at all.” The Los Angeles consulate said, “We are curious about your statement saying you have the right to avoid compulsory military service no matter what happens. You can certainly express your opinion through Korean ambassadors in America without the need to go to South Korea. We also question whether it is appropriate for you to conduct an interview with the media from Korea.” The final decision of the lawsuit would be revealed on September 30th.

Session Results Announced, Yoo Seung-joon Banned From South Korea

Yoo Seung-joon’s struggle to return to being a South Korean citizen seems to be over. All the efforts he had taken so far eventually turned out to be in vain because the results of the last trial decided that Yoo Seung-joon is still barred from entering South Korea.

Previously, Yoo Seung-joon fought against the Consulate of Los Angeles, America, requesting a Visa to be able to enter in South Korea. Yoo Seung-joon was banned from entering South Korea for deliberately missing out on compulsory military duty by registering as an American citizen.

“He tried to get this citizenship before military registration. Claims that the aim was not to avoid military service really made no sense,” the consulate representative of the L.A said before the trial.

On Friday, September 30th, 2016, the Seoul Administrative Court decided to ban Yoo Seung-joon from entering South Korea. The court stated that they could not let Yoo Seung-joon enter because if they did, it would reduce the morale of the soldiers currently on military duty while setting a precedent for teenagers so that South Korean men would not avoid military duty.

With that decision, Yoo Seung-joon expressed objections and will appeal. “He was very disappointed with the decision made by the Administrative Judge today. He realized his decision was wrong, but by not allowing him to enter his own country for more than 14 years, the country of his own birth was truly unfair. He would consult with his family and discuss what steps will be chosen, and will make decisions,” explained Yoo Seung-joon’s lawyer.