Yesung was born on August 24, 1984 in Seoul and later moved to Cheonan, South Chungcheong at age 10. He is the older son of two; his younger brother's name is Kim Jong-jin. From a young age, Yesung expressed an interest in singing. In 1999, he joined a broadcast singing competition and won gold at the Cheonan Singing Competition. In 2001, Yesung's mother Im Bo-kyung signed him up to audition for SM Entertainment's Starlight Casting System, in which he impressed the judges with his "artistic voice", and signed as trainee under SM Entertainment that same year. His label given him stage name Yesung which is derived from the Korean phrase "예술가의 성대" (lit. meaning: vocal cords of an artist) and can be translated as an "art-like voice".
Yesung officially debuted as part of 12-member project group Super Junior 05 on November 6, 2005 on SBS's music programme Popular Songs, performing their first single, "Twins (Knock Out)". Their debut album SuperJunior05 (Twins) was released a month later on December 5, 2005 and debuted at #3 on the monthly MIAK K-pop album charts.
In March 2006, SM Entertainment began to recruit new members for the next Super Junior generation. However, plans changed and the company declared a halt in forming Future Super Junior generations. Following the addition of thirteenth member, Kyuhyun, the group dropped the suffix "05" and became officially credited as Super Junior. The re-polished group's first CD single "U" was released on June 7 2006, which was their most successful single until the release of "Sorry, Sorry" in March 2009. In the fall of 2007, the group released their second official album, Don't Don, which became Super Junior's best-selling album and Korea's second best-selling album of the year.
He debut as an actor on July 26, 2007, with the release of Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, a high school comedy starring fellow Super Junior members. He played the school's rock star who gets attacked by a mysterious force.
On May 9, 2008, Yesung was sent to the hospital after he injured his leg during the 70 km 24-Hour Marathon of Hope in which he and bandmates Shindong, Sungmin, Leeteuk, Eunhyuk and Kangin participated. The event was in collaboration with the SBS charity program "Hope TV 24" and the money raised was donated to a Mongolian school in South Korea which was at risk of closing down. Due to the injury, Yesung was unable to complete the marathon, but appeared on stage on crutches with his fellow members. On August 8, Yesung was sent to the hospital after falling from a 1.5m stage while rehearsing at the KBS music program, Music Bank. The injury aggravated old injuries from the neck and waist and was hospitalised for two days. In June 2008, Yesung became a member of Super Junior-H, releasing their first mini-album titled Cooking? Cooking!. He sang ballad track "Love Really Hurts" for the original Soundtrack of television drama Tazza, which aired from September 16, to November 25, 2008. In 2009, Yesung made his musical theatre debut in Namhansanseong (lit. South Korean Mountain Fortress), which is based on the novel of the same name by Kim Hoon, which is based on the historical incident of Byeongja Horan, at the Namhansanseong in Gyeonggi-do. But the musical focuses on the lives of Common people and their spirit of survival during harsh situations. Yesung played villain "Jung Myung-soo", a servant-turned-interpreter who feels sad from being betrayed by his country, from October 9 to November 4, at the Seongnam Arts Center Opera House. On November 6, he made a surprise appearance on KBS' Music Bank with label mates SHINee in place of Jonghyun, who was recovering from influenza, in a performance of "Ring Ding Dong".
In November 2012, Super Junior K.R.Y. held a concert tour in Japan, Super Junior K.R.Y. Special Winter Concert. They announced that they would be releasing their first single 6 years after debut. The teaser for "Promise You" was released on November 21, 2012, followed by the single on January 23, 2013. It debuted at number two on the Oricon's daily singles chart.
During his military Service in February 2014, Yesung joined the ballad group SM the Ballad, initially formed by SM Entertainment in 2010. On the group's 2nd album, he had a solo song for the track "Blind", which releasing on Korean and Japanese version sung by Yesung, however didn't participate with the promotions.
On July 8, 2015, SM Entertainment announced that Yesung would re-join Super Junior for the special album, Devil which was released on July 16, to celebrate the group's 10th anniversary.
On November 18, 2016 it was confirmed that Yesung would join OCN's upcoming drama Voice, to air in January 2017.
On April 18, 2017 Yesung released his second extended play titled Spring Falling. The album contains six tracks, with the lead single titled "Paper Umbrella".