Yuk was born in Okcheon County, Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea in 1925, the second of three daughters of a prosperous self-made landlord.
She graduated from Baehwa Women's High School.
In August 1950 she met Park Chung-hee through a relative who was serving under Park. On 12 December 1950 she married Park Chung-hee. While her mother supported her choice of husband, Yuk's father was against the match, so she married without his blessing.
At 10:23 a.m., 15 August 1974, South Korean Independence Day, Yuk was shot and killed by Mun Se-gwang, a Zainichi Korean and North Korean sympathizer, during an attempt by Mun to assassinate President Park Chung-hee.
The assassination occurred at the Seoul National Theater of Korea during an Independence Day ceremony. Mun intended to shoot Park in the theater lobby. However, his view was obstructed, and he was forced to enter and be seated near the back of the theater. During Park's address, he attempted to get closer to the President but inadvertently fired his Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver prematurely, injuring himself. Having alerted security, he then ran down the theater aisle firing wildly. His second bullet hit the left side of the podium from which Park was delivering his speech. The third bullet was a misfire. His fourth bullet struck Yuk Young-soo in the head, seriously wounding her. His last bullet went through a flag decorating the rear of the stage. A bullet fired by Park Jong-gyu, one of the President's security, in response to Mun's attack, ricocheted off a wall and killed a high school student, Jang Bong-hwa. Immediately following the capture of Mun, Park resumed his scheduled speech despite the wounding of his wife and her being carried from the stage. Following its completion he picked up his wife's handbag and shoes and left.
Yuk was rushed to the hospital in Wonnam-dong, central Seoul. Dr. Shim Bo-seong, who was chief of the hospital's neurosurgery department, began operating on Yuk at 11 a.m., which lasted for over five hours.
The bullet damaged the largest vein on the right side of her brain and remained lodged within the brain. The surgery was unable to save her life and she died at 7:00 p.m. that same day.
She was buried in a state funeral on 19 August 1974.
Yuk Young-soo is buried next to her husband at the Seoul National Cemetery.
Park composed the following poem the day after Yuk's state funeral.
Yuk Young-soo and Park Chung-hee had three children: daughters Park Geun-hye, the 11th president of South Korea, as well as Park Geun-ryoung and a son Park Ji-man.
Yuk Young-soo was a devout Buddhist and a devotee of Doseonsa in Seoul.