When Yoo made his debut in a television commercial in 2003, his manager at the time advised that he should go with a stage name. He was told his birth name Uhm Hong-sik sounded too traditional and the pronunciation too heavy. The actor eventually settled on Ah-in, which phonetically sounds like the number one in German.
The actor donated to various charitable organisations as well as helped them raise funds and awareness. As early as 2012, he’s worked with organisations such as The Beautiful Foundation and the South Korean skincare giant, Amorepacific Group, to help bring attention to issues such as child hunger and breast cancer. In 2015, he established his own charity, the Newkids Yoo Ah In Charity Fund, to aid underprivileged college students.
Yoo is an art lover and supporter of up-and-coming artists. So much so that in 2014 he became a curator and the creative director of Studio Concrete, an art gallery founded by a collective of young South Korean artists. Located in Seoul’s Hannam-dong, the studio is a gallery/cafe/shop hybrid that puts young talent front and centre.
It’s no surprise his popularity in South Korea has landed him gigs as ambassadors for top luxury brands. He was the first South Korean actor named an ambassador for Cartier in the country; he also was the first Asian actor appointed as a global model for denim brand Diesel. Yoo also lent his fame to Balenciaga, Burberry and Calvin Klein.
The actor has his hands in many pots, from running a gallery to his charity. Yet, he still seems to find time to venture into various businesses, some more unusual than others. In 2015, the actor invested in a restaurant that specialised in deep-friend mushrooms. Called TMI (Too Much Information), the restaurant in Itaewon, Seoul, eventually shut its doors in 2017.
Despite that, Yoo’s passion for the culinary world lives on; he’s said to be an avid home cook.