Yul Kwon was born in Queens, New York to parents who emigrated from South Korea. The family moved to the West Coast when he was six years old and he was raised in Concord, California. He attended high school at Northgate High in Walnut Creek, California, where he played varsity water polo and track and graduated valedictorian.

Kwon then attended Stanford University and obtained a Bachelor of Science Degree in symbolic systems (theoretical computer science). While at Stanford, he received the James Lyons Award for Service, attended officer candidates school for the U.S. Marine Corps and graduated Phi Beta Kappa. Kwon went on to receive his Juris Doctor Degree from Yale Law School, where he served on the editorial board of the Yale Law Journal.

Kwon has enjoyed a diverse career straddling both the private and public sectors in law, business and technology. He practiced a mix of litigation, appellate, transactional and regulatory work at several law firms. He also served as a judicial clerk to a federal judge on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. Additionally, he worked as a legislative aide to Senator Joseph Lieberman in Washington, D.C., where he helped draft sections of the Homeland Security Bill and other technology-related legislation. Several years ago, Kwon decided to switch careers and become a management consultant at McKinsey. From there, he joined Google's business strategy group and most recently went back into consulting.

Kwon's favorite hobbies include politics, boxing, ultimate fighting and volunteering with kids. He describes himself as idealistic, compassionate and ambitious. He became passionate about creating awareness for more minority bone marrow donors in the U.S. after launching a major search to find a match for his best friend who was diagnosed with leukemia, but ultimately succumbed to the disease.

Kwon is a member of the Washington, D.C. and California State Bar Associations. He is also a member of the Lambda Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Kwon currently resides in San Mateo, California. His birth date is February 14, 1975.

Survivor: Cook Islands

Yul Kwon (born February 14, 1975 in Queens, New York) is the winner of Survivor: Cook Islands. A resident of San Mateo, California, he was born to South Korean emigrants and attended Stanford University, where he was a member of Lambda Phi Epsilon, and upon graduation attended Yale Law School.

Originally the leader of the Asian-American Puka Puka tribe, Yul led his tribe to dominate in the first two tribal immunity challenges in episodes 1 and 2. On Puka Puka, Yul developed a long-lasting alliance and friendship with fellow-Korean and attorney Becky Lee. In Episode 2, Yul was banished to Exile Island by the Hispanic Aitutaki tribe after Aitutaki threw and intentionally lost the second immunity challenge. On Exile Island, Yul was able to decipher the clues and find the hidden immunity idol, which would be very instrumental to his survival later in the game.
In Episode 3, the four ethnically-divided tribes integrated into two tribes, and both Yul and Becky became members of the new Aitutaki tribe. Yul and Becky immediately developed a four-person alliance with Jonathan Penner and Candice Woodcock of the old Caucasian Rarotonga tribe. When Aitutaki lost the next immunity challenge and the opposing new Rarotonga tribe sent Candice to Exile Island, Yul's alliance became outnumbered and Becky became the first target. However, Yul and Jonathan were able to convince Cao Boi Bui and Jessica Smith (Flica) from their old respective tribes to side with them and voted out Cecilia Mansilla. After that, the new Aitutaki tribe enjoyed back-to-back immunity wins in episodes 4 and 5.

In Episode 6, both tribes were informed they would have to vote someone out of their tribe, regardless of the challenge results. Despite being from the same original tribe, Yul and his alliance voted out Cao Boi, seeing him as a loose cannon not to be trusted. It was around this point that Yul, Becky, Jonathan and Candice recruited Sundra Oakley to their now 5-person alliance. In Episode 7, this new alliance targeted Ozzy Lusth due to his strength in challenges. But when the Aitutaki tribe lost immunity, they voted out Jessica (Flica), admitting they needed Ozzy for future challenges. Both tribes were now tied at 6 members each.

In Episode 8, all remaining survivors were given the chance to "mutiny" and defect to the opposite tribe. Candice saw this as an oportunity to get back to her old-Rarotonga friends Adam Gentry and Parvati Shallow and mutinied to the Rarotonga tribe, and Jonathan followed Candice. The mutiny left Yul, Becky, Sundra and Ozzy as a tribe of four against a tribe of eight. Despite these odds, the new "Aitu 4" were able to dominate in the challenges and win four challenges in a row, sending Rarotonga to tribal council where they voted out Brad Virata, Rebecca Borman and (in a twist where they had to vote twice in one tribal council) Jenny Guzon-Bae. These three survivors became members of a larger jury.
At the Final 9, the two tribes (Aitutaki and Rarotonga) merged into Aitutonga. The "Aitu 4" (Yul, Ozzy, Becky and Sundra) became outnumbered by the five Rarotonga members. Yul devised a plan to use the Hidden Immunity Idol to blackmail former ally and mutineer Jonathan. By using his Hidden Immunity Idol to threaten to eliminate Jonathan at Tribal Council, Jonathan decided to defect from Rarotonga and join the "Aitu 4" to save himself. "Aitu 4" and Jonathan surprised Rarotonga at Tribal Council and voted out Nathan Gonzalez. In the Survivor Auction at the Final 8, Yul revealed to the remaining Rarotonga members and the host Jeff Probst that he held the Hidden Immunity Idol. The "Aitu 4" and Jonathan continued to control the game and voted out former ally and mutineer Candice.

At the Final 7, Yul, then dubbed the "Ringleader", "Puppet Master" and "Godfather", was constantly being pressured by the remaining bitter Rarotonga members, Adam and Parvati, to vote out the traitor Jonathan. Adam and Parvati, knowing that their days in the game were numbered, threatened to vote against Yul in the jury if Yul refused to vote out Jonathan before them. Yul made a deal with Adam that if Jonathan was voted out ahead of him and Parvati, he would gain Adam vote in the jury, and Jonathan was voted out. In the next two Tribal Councils, Parvati and Adam were voted out respectively, propelling the "Aitu 4" into the final 4.

Once in the Final 4, Becky, Ozzy, Sundra and Yul were shocked to hear that instead of a standard Final Two, the final tribal council would consist of three members. At the immunity challenge, Ozzy continued to dominate, winning his spot in the Final Three. Yul, still protected by the hidden immunity idol, was also safe. Both Ozzy and Yul agreed that the fairest decision would be a tie-breaker challenge between Becky and Sundra. Yul offered his idol to Becky, but she declined. In the tie-breaker, both Becky and Sundra could not start a fire with flint for 1 hour. Moving to matches, both still had trouble, and Sundra ran out of matches. Becky went on to win the challenge, moving her into the Final Three with Ozzy and Yul.

In the Final Tribal Council, Yul was credited for his strategic prowess and his ability in the social aspect of the game, whereas Ozzy was credited for his domination in the physical aspect of the game. In the end, Yul Kwon beat out Ozzy Lusth and Becky Lee in a 5-4-0 vote to become the Sole Survivor, gaining the votes of Brad Virata, Candice Woodcock, Jonathan Penner, Adam Gentry and Sundra Oakley.


Yul is also in the Delta Class of Stanford University Theta Chapter Lambda Phi Epsilon, an Asian-interest fraternity.
He is one of People magazine's Sexiest Men for 2006.
Yul is the first Asian American castaway to become the Sole Survivor.