Madame Ban Soon-taek (Yoo Soon-taek) was born in Goesan, North Chungcheong Province, Korea, on January 10, 1945.

In 1962, she graduated Chungju Girls’ High School with honours and as President of her class. Madame Ban furthered her academic studies at ChungAng University in Seoul, Korea, where she majored in Library and Information Science. After graduation, Madame Ban worked as a Librarian at ChungAng University.

Madame Ban and Ban Ki-moon wed on March 20, 1971 in Seoul, South Korea. The couple took up their first Foreign Service assignment in India in 1972 where they served until 1975, and where their first child was born. Their two other children were born in Seoul.

Madame Ban has been involved in activities over the past 40 years to advance the cause of children, women and senior citizens. Madame Ban also helped launch the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)/Avon Products public/private partnership project. The project’s goal is to promote women's empowerment and end violence against women.

She is actively involved in the “Women for Peace” initiative which raises funds to support one young woman from each of the five continents to attend a graduate programme at the University of Peace in Costa Rica. The event was launched in the General Assembly Hall in March 2008.

Madame Ban’s special interests include children's education and welfare, autism research, and issues concerning women's development and health.