Yona (ヨナ Yona?) is the titular protagonist of the manga and anime series, Akatsuki no Yona. She is the Crown princess of Kouka Kingdom, the only heir of Emperor Il and Queen Kashi, and the reincarnation of King Hiryuu. On her 16th birthday, she was forced to flee Hiryuu Castle as a fugitive after her father was murdered by her cousin Soo-Won, who in turn usurped the throne and became king.
Yona had a sheltered, pampered upbringing, but that changed when she witnessed her father's murder. After her father's death she and Hak were forced to flee from the Hiryuu Castle and travel to the Wind Tribe for safety. Eventually Yona and Hak, with Son Mundok's advice, sought out the Priest Ik-Su, who then told them to find the Four Dragons, who founded the country 2000 years ago, to protect them. The resolve to live led Yona to travel throughout the country to find the dragons, who helped her find a new purpose and meaning in friendship, and order Hak to train her in archery and swordsmanship.
Throughout her journey, Yona started to realize that her father was not considered a good king by his people, and that Soo-Won had usurped the throne to fix his mistakes. However, she too decided to protect her father's people in his stead. Along the way, she changed from a sweet but naive girl, to a fearless and toughened warrior, while still maintaining grace, compassion and integrity.
Yona is considered a very beautiful girl for her age, often called pretty and cute. She is a slender girl of short stature with fair skin. She has closely resembles her mother Kashi having the same large, round violet eyes and facial features, however unlike her, Yona was born with wavy red hair, which she hated very much, as red hair was rare and made her stand out from others. Later on it is revealed that she has red hair, not because of any genetic inheritance (both of her parents have black hair), but because she is the reincarnation of King Hiryuu. At the beginning of the series, she had long hair, but after the series of events when she confronts Kan Tae-Jun, she slices her hair off with a sword to prevent being captured and to save Hak in the process.
Yona now wears her hair short, which is slowly growing back. Her current outfit is made up of a white gown and a red vest with dark burgundy borderlines and a light pink sash tied around her waist. She often wears a hooded cape to hide her full appearance, particularly her red hair. She is also never seen without the same pair of elegant, long earrings, which belonged to her mother Kashi. Until, for some unknown reason, she stopped wearing it after being kidnapped by the sen province and was never seen to wear it ever since
Throughout the series, Yona's eyes suddenly appear to have a fiery, determined look in them whenever her friends' lives are in danger, or she sets out to accomplish something, marking her nobility status and dignified air as Kouka's Princess and King Hiryuu's reincarnation. They have been described as that of a wild beast. Her eyes are what often sway people into believing that she is not the Princess.
Yona is very adaptable and has a sweet demeanor and a strong sense of conviction. On her journey, she shows an absolute willingness to learn and remains idealistic during extremely difficult situations. She was initially selfish and demanding of others, which is first noted when Yoon scolds her for not thanking him for taking care of Hak. She eventually learns to show appreciation of others through her travels. Despite her tragic history, Yona maintains a positive outlook on life and chooses to help those in need. During her travels, she becomes more mature and self-confident. She begins to overcome her insecurities, realizing what is most valuable in life during her journey with Hak, Yoon, and the four dragons.
When she was still living in Hiryuu Castle, Yona was ignorant of everything happening around her and only cared about herself. She did not take the initiative to know the events unfolding around her country despite being a princess. Because of this, she is struck by the hard truth of people hating her father and his leadership, also the fact her father was a coward that deeply loathes weapons and violence, as well as how ignorant she had been of her duty when she was chased out from her home. To compensate for her lack of concern for her citizens and to protect the place her father once protected, she vowed to mend the conflicts within Kouka little by little. With her sincerity to this oath, she manages to sway and surprise others to the point that they can’t help but support her regardless of the risks. It is also the reason why she can perform certain feats in spite of her previously hardship-free lifestyle, such as standing up to several armed soldiers or scaling a dangerous cliff for a rare herb. Additionally, these kinds of threats don’t scare her anymore because she thinks that there is nothing scarier than what she witnessed on the night of her birthday.
One of her biggest gags throughout the series is her tendency to say things that can easily be misunderstood or thought of in a romantic nature. Hak usually tends to take the brunt of the humiliation when he expects more, but is also the most used to it. Thus, Yona is very dense when it comes to romantic or intimate situations. Whether it's because of her very strong dedication to Soo-Won since childhood or the experience of Kan Tae-Jun's courting, or the fact that even two of the dragon warriors Kija and Jae-Ha also harbor romantic feelings for her as well, buy Yona does not notice when others seem to be attracted to her. Ironically enough, she does understand the adult interactions between men and women, as shown when she says that even Hak needs some time to fool around with girls.
Yona was heartbroken and traumatized with Soo-Won's betrayal which forced her to flee for her life and she kept the hairpin that he gave her as a reminder and out of normality of what happened that night on her 16th birthday. But after a long run of emotional healing and accepting of what happened she finally gave away the hairpin to get information in order to save her friends from the first princess of the king of Xing and this also means that she has finally moved past her feelings for Soo-Won as well. Yona grieved greatly after her father's murder at the hands of Soo-Won and she stated that she will never forgive for that, but she has decided she does not want to seek revenge against him because she doesn't want to live her life in the cycle of revenge and just wants to help her people in the Kouka kingdom.
When talking to Lili in chapter 110 about her feelings for Soo-Won now after everything had happened she stated that even though she will never forgive him for what he had done and that even in the beginning she wanted to get revenge for what he had done. However, as time went to she realized that if she were to ruin Soo-Won that it would cause chaos in the country and also isn't a necessary evil person and in fact a good influence in the kingdom and can make it a better place for the citizens. In order to keep her father's memory alive, she asked Hak to only call princess instead of her real name so that she and no one else will forget that she is the true heir to the throne and who her father was before he was killed. In Chapter 179 once Yona returns back to the castle due to the deal that she made with Kye-Sook in order to keep her and her friends safe and not to start a civil war in the kingdom. However, she still suffers from the trauma of her father being killed and her attempted murder as well this is shown when she came back to the castle and her PTSD came back.
In addition to while talking with the Fire Tribe General Kan Kyo-Ga about the conflict between her and Soo-Won for the throne. Even though she had helped the people of the land he stills wonder if she would take her revenge on Soo-Won and that as General he must remain loyal to the crown in which she understands. However he realized hat the people of the Fire Tribe truly believed that she is the reincarnation of King Hiryuu from the legends and that the dragon warriors are Gods as well. Yona's answer shocks him and her friends by stating that even though what Soo-Won did was horrible and that she is justified in wanting revenge against him and that it is her birthright to sit on the throne. She later came to the conclusion that while she will never forgive him she doesn't want to live a life of revenge and that she just wants to live in peace and help those around her. This answer further shows her maturity about revenge isn't the answer as well as her strong conviction and strength of character. This conviction is also most noticed by Hak and he realized that Yona would be able to face Soo-Won without fear or anger.
Yona is the sole princess and heir of the Kouka Kingdom. Her mother was assassinated by Yu-Hon when she was young, leaving her in the care of her kind and loving father, Emperor Il, who spoils her. Throughout her life in sixteen years, Yona grew up without a care in the world; never knowing of strife or unhappiness save for her mother's death. As she was the princess, she was forbidden to go outside for her safety. Due to living inside, she remained oblivious to the affairs of the country though also even to the happenings in the palace. As displayed in many flashbacks, Yona was very close to Hak and Soo-Won. She has been in love with Soo-Won since she was little due to the fact he was there to comfort her in times of need. In the manga, she told Hak she loves him.
At the very beginning of the series, she lacks any sort of fighting skill and has to rely completely on Hak for protection. After his near-death in the fugitive arc, Yona insists on being taught self-defense so that she can protect both herself and her companions.
- Archery: She begins learning how to use the bow and arrow under Hak's tutelage and later on receives detailed instructions from Yoon. Her archery skills were worse than a beginner, but after consistent practice every day and night, though secretly, she built her skills up to the point of her hands being calloused and cut. She eventually reached the point where she can now fire off 200 arrows in a single session. Her accuracy also improved and she is now able to fire a one-shot kill against humans and animals without hesitation.
- Swordsmanship: After months of relentless persuasion to get Hak to instruct her, Yona eventually begins to learn swordsmanship. She started off as a novice dueling against Hak and practicing with a wooden sword. Later on during the Nadai Arc, Yona emerged as the victor in a sword fight against a large, built man, however she received a large gash on her back when protecting Lili.
- Observation: Though she was sheltered for the majority of her life, Yona quickly developed exceptional observation skills. She is able to detect how people are feeling; for example, when she was in Awa she was able to tell the townspeople had "no light behind their eyes". In the manga she again showed her observation skills when she could tell who had taken the drug 'Nadai' by the bloodthirst in the peoples' eyes.
- Charisma: In chapter 138 of the manga, Min-Soo explains that, although she only tries to help her own friends, "the people around her, in hopes of doing something for her, stretch out their hands." Yona, by earnestly protecting the ones whom she loves, earns the hearts and support of everyone she meets. Min-soo goes on to describe this, saying, "Isn't this a terribly formidable power?"
- Music: During the series, it has been noted that Yona can play the Koto (a Japanese zither, it was mistranslated as a harp) and dance, as she stated in episode 23 of the anime. Also, in the Nadai Arc, she was disguised as a dancer to lure the drug addicts out.
- (To Hak) "I want to move forward somehow. I will become stronger. Teach me to use a sword and bow. I’ll learn. I don’t want to die in this absurd state. Even more, I don’t want to lose you! To prevent that, I will acquire even the power of the gods." 
- (To Ik-Soo) "For the first time, I spoke with people outside the castle. I walked myself ragged, carrying the weapons my father had forbidden. I heard their bitterness toward the reality that hadn't changed since my father's rule. It was mortifying. My father loved peace above all, but his country wasn't happy. The more I learned, the more powerless I was. But when I reached out in desperation, someone reached back. I wasn't strong enough to pull myself up, but others pushed me from behind. There are many in this country I want to protect. I do not regret shooting Kum-ji, Lord of Awa. Since then, I've been thinking. There must be cities in Kouka like Awa. So from now on, I will gaze across the country, and help those in distress!" 
- (To Emperor Il) "Father, forgive me. I will take up weapons to protect your country. I cannot return to the castle right now, because there is something I must do." 
- (To Hak) "Hak, you did nothing wrong. So you should not have to feel responsible for every one of my injuries. This is mine. This is my injury." 
- (To Kye-Sook) "Don't you dare give me that. War looms before you, and yet you refuse to listen to the words of an emissary from Xing Kingdom. And now you wish to kill me? Why must I be subject to such irrationality? Is this what you wanted? Is this what you killed my father for? So you could pull off schemes like this?" 
- (To Tae-Jun) "I may be an ignorant princess, but I haven't fallen so low to blindly follow the orders of someone who doesn't understand the reason!" 
- [source needed] "Even if my throat is dry, so parched, even if my sanity is about to burn away, my field of view is lit red from my burning anger. Even if my hands and legs are burnt to ashes by this fire, I will destroy this rotten place. And I will protect Lili." 
- [source needed] "If I can't run... then I must fight!" 
- (To Hak) "If it’s to protect you, I want to take up a weapon! Even if I have to sacrifice someone!" 
- (To Shin-Ah) "Your hand was very warm. I don’t know what kind of curse you have, but if that was the hand of someone cursed, then I don’t care that you have a terrifying curse at all." 
- (To Hak) "Only you must call me 'Princess'. Please don’t forget that I am my father’s - Emperor II’s -daughter. Even if everyone in the country forgets, please… at least you must remember." 
- [source needed] "If they desert impoverished children and the sick in order to protect themselves from danger, they have their priorities backward." 
- [source needed] "I know that I have no strengths to offer. It irritates me how weak I am. But let me protect them!" 
- [source needed] "Before I question the gods, there are questions I should ask myself!" 
- (To Hak) "I.. I love you, Hak. I was finally able to say it." 
- [source needed] "I was just entranced. Hak, Soo-Won, if you two were allies, I wonder how much you two could have accomplished together? Right now, I wonder... why... why did we turn out like this?" 
- (To An Lili about Soo-Won) "After Father was killed and I escaped from the capital, all I did was grieve. I thought that I would never be able to forgive him. I thought, "why would such a gentle person do this?" But after learning more about our country, witnessing the Fire Tribe's betrayal, and meeting him at Sensui, I began to think that, perhaps, Soo-Won wanted to protect this country using a different method than my father." 
- [source needed] "Hak will probably never forgive Soo-Won. Even if Soo-Won is seen as a rightful ruler to this country, since Hak trusted Soo-Won more than anyone else, more than anyone else... his grief will never be healed." 
- [source needed] "This country needs a strong leader. If I fight against Soo-Won because of my personal feelings, it will only plunge the country into chaos. If Soo-Won created a tyranny because of his own greed, I might have fought against him, but right now, what I have to do is not seek revenge. I too, did once think I had to seek revenge. But the truth was, even I can never forgive Soo-Won, I never truly wanted to kill him. No matter what, I can't believe that the kindness that person has shown to me and Hak was all a lie." 
- (To An Lili about Soo-Won) "Right now... I want to understand him. What is that person thinking, what does he want to achieve? What should I do then after I know all this? I want to understand him, but it's different from the way I felt in the capital." 
- [source needed] "Drawing a bow means taking and losing lives. My father hated pain. But, Father, if I do not take lives, I cannot live." 
- [source needed] "I always wanted to become stronger. At first it was to protect myself. Next, it was to protect Hak, who gave up everything for me. Now, it's to repay my friends, who enabled me to live." 
- (To Soo-Won about his father) "I see now why uncle Yu-Hon could not be king." 
- She placed 2nd in the character popularity poll conducted by Hana to Yume in December 2014. She scored 2,289 votes in total.
- Aside from dancing, Yona can play Koto; a Japanese stringed instrument of Chinese origin.
- Yona's earrings were originally red but were re-colored in the fourth volume to yellow.
- Throughout the manga, Yona's hair steadily grows after she cuts it. Originally, it ran all the way to her back. Currently, it is around shoulder length. In the anime, this is only made clear in the OVAs.
- The first chapter in the manga glimpses at a time skip to sometimes unknown in the future where Yona is self-composedly standing outside Kouka in the cold mountains at dawn, with an unknown companion, a jade-hilted sword, and her hair grown fully back.
- Yona's false name was changed in the anime from Lena to Rinhna
- The etymological origin of Yona is a real-life Korean (and also possibly Japanese) name, of which the Hanja/Kanji meaning is "Lotus Flower".
- Alternatively it's also possible that it's related to the Hebrew name Yonah, meaning "Dove"
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 43, Page 7
- Akatsuki no Yona Volume 17
- Kusanagi Mizuho's Twitter
- Kusagani Mizuho's Twitter
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 101, Page 12
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 10, Page 12
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 15, Page 3
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 176
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 12, Page 7
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 26, Page 11
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 18, Page 30
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 28, Page 2
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 01, Page 33
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 12, Pages 6-7
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 15, Page 9
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 18, Page 22
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 19, Page 20
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 52, Page 19
- Akatsuki no Yona Episode 05
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 23, Pages 9-10
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 25, Page 21
- Hana to Yume (花とゆめ), 2015/1 edition
- Akatsuki no Yona Chapter 38, Page 15