Born in Anyang, South Korea, Sunwoo began learning piano at age 8. He moved to the United States at age 14 to study with Seymour Lipkin at the Curtis Institute of Music, with Robert McDonald at The Juilliard School and with Richard Goode at the Mannes School of Music. Before winning the 2017 Cliburn Gold Medal, Sunwoo won first prize at the 2015 International German Piano Award in Frankfurt, the 2014 Vendome Prize held at the Verbier Festival, the 2013 Sendai International Music Competition and the 2012 William Kapell International Piano Competition.
Yekwon Sunwoo impressed judges at the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition with “crisp, effervescent playing” (The New York Times) and became the first South Korean to capture the Gold Medal. He has been praised for “fastidious fingerwork” and “a true legato” (The Dallas Morning News), “animated, light-filled playing” (The Washington Post), and “total command over the instrument and its expressiveness” (San Francisco Examiner).