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 beloved 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.
Her eyes are what often sway people into believing that she is not the Princess.
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 belongs to her mother Kashi. 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. After some time her hair had returned like in the beginning.
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.
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 arduous-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.
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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.