Yona of the Dawn's title heroine is popular and respected for her extensive character development during the series, from spoiled princess to daring warrior. Forced to adapt to a rough and dangerous life on the run, Yona endures drastic changes to her lifestyle early on. But with a newfound goal of finding the legendary Dragon Warriors and bringing peace to Kouka Kingdom, she discovers more about herself and her kingdom along the way.
Yona the Princess: On the Run With Hak
Early on in Yona of the Dawn, Yona's father is murdered by her cousin and crush, Soo-Won, so she flees the palace before his supporters have the chance to kill her as well. She goes into hiding with Hak, where they're forced to live in the nearby woods undetected. While Hak is used to a rough lifestyle in the wilderness, Yona struggles to walk long distances and survive off the land. Given her inexperience, Hak is initially forced to care for them both while protecting her from potential danger, like rescuing her from a snake pit she accidentally wanders into.
Before Yona can even adapt to sleeping outdoors and going long periods of time without food, she and Hak are attacked by soldiers led by Tae-Jun. Despite being shot and poisoned by a soldier's arrow, Hak tries to take them on all at once. He leaves Yona in a safe location and tells her to stay there, but Yona can tell he's about to sacrifice his life for her own. Instead of obeying and staying put, Yona runs out and confronts the soldiers head-on before they have the chance to kill Hak. When Tae-Jun grabs Yona by her long hair, she uses her sword to chop off her hair and free herself from his grasp. In her first brave and life-saving act, Yona's transformation from princess to warrior is visually symbolized with her new short hair.
Shortly after, Yona and Hak meet with the Oracle who tells them to find the four legendary Dragon Warriors, and Yoon joins their travels to aid their mission and see the world. With a new goal in mind, Yona asks Hak to teach her how to fight and defend herself given their treacherous journey ahead. Hak agrees to teach her archery so she can be useful in battle while fighting from a safe distance, and he soon finds Yona training day and night in the hopes to be strong enough to protect him.
Yona's Four Legendary Dragon Warriors
As Yona, Hak, and Yoon set out to find Yona of the Dawn's four legendary Dragon Warriors, they soon discover a stunning revelation: Yona may be the reincarnation of the Crimson Dragon King, destined to bring peace and prosperity to Kouka Kingdom. Upon hearing this, she discovers a newfound determination to improve herself so she can be worthy of leading her kingdom's people. However, Yona must first prove her worth to the Dragon Warriors to convince them to follow her lead.
While Kija and Zeno, the White and Yellow Dragon Warriors, are already aware of their destiny and soon join Yona on her mission, not all of them are immediately willing to follow. With a tragic childhood and a fear of others, Shin-Ah the Blue Dragon Warrior initially tells Yona he must remain in the dark cave that imprisons him and declines her offer. However, when they get trapped behind a collapsed part of the cave with very little oxygen, Shin-Ah is so impressed by Yona's determination to keep digging and fighting a nearly impossible battle that he changes his mind and agrees to follow her.
Meanwhile, Jae-Ha the Green Dragon Warrior gives Yona the hardest time about joining her because he values his freedom over all else. Not wanting to become a slave to Yona and their reincarnated past, he desperately avoids her and her attempts at convincing him to join them. However, after Yona's party decides to work with Jae-Ha's pirate crew and they're forced to be around one another, he soon realizes Yona treats everyone as friends and equals rather than subordinates. Jae-Ha is finally convinced of her bravery and worthiness as a leader when she selflessly scales a dangerous cliff to retrieve a life-saving medicinal plant.
Yona the Warrior: Risking Her Life for Her People
After retrieving the medicinal plant and proving her bravery, the pirates allow her to join them for a joint mission to stop human trafficking in the area. Captain Gi-Gan, the pirates' leader, and Jae-Ha agree that he will join Yona as the Green Dragon Warrior after they complete their coordinated mission. With complete disregard to her own safety and comfort, Yona volunteers to go undercover and intentionally get kidnapped by the human traffickers in order to infiltrate and locate the ship holding the hostages. Despite Hak's initial protest, Yona is determined to aid the suffering people of her kingdom to make up for years of ignorance and inaction.
With Yoon by her side disguised as a woman, they both get captured and brought to the ship and cellar housing the kidnapped women. Yona convinces the women that they will safely escape and encourages them to fight back against their kidnappers. Despite her sprained ankle, Yona escapes to the ship's deck with her bow and arrow to light the firework that signals to the crew which ship she and the kidnapped women are being held on.
As the rest of the crew make their strategic attack against the human traffickers, they struggle to apprehend the leader Kum-Ji. Yona suddenly spots him making his escape on a rowboat a short distance away. With a fierce look of determination, she aims her bow and arrow at him and shoots him directly in the chest as he falls into the sea. After her first kill, Yona completely rids herself of the childlike innocence she once had as a sheltered princess, and with the four legendary Dragon Warriors by her side, becomes a brave and unstoppable warrior on her path to restore Kouka Kingdom.