Han Hyo-joo (Korean: 한효주; born February 22, 1987) is a South Korean film and television actress, model and singer. She is best known for her leading roles in television series such as Heaven & Earth (2007), Iljimae (2008), Brilliant Legacy (2009), Dong Yi (2010) for which she won the coveted Best Actress award at the 47th Baeksang Arts Awards, W (2016) and Happiness (2021), as well as the films Masquerade (2012), which is one of the highest grossing Korean films of all-time, Cold Eyes (2013), for which she won Best Actress at the 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards, Love 911 (2012), The Beauty Inside (2015), and The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure (2022).

Han Hyo-joo
20211127 Han Hyo-joo 한효주 BH Entertainment (5).jpg
Han in November 2021
Born (1987-02-22) February 22, 1987 (age 36)
EducationDongguk University - Theater and Film[1]
  • Actress
  • model
  • singer
Years active2003–present
  • BH Entertainment (South Korea)
  • FlaMme (Japan)
Height172 cm (5 ft 8 in)
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHan Hyo-ju
McCune–ReischauerHan Hyoju

Early lifeEdit

Han Hyo-joo was born in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province.[1] Her mother was an elementary school teacher before becoming an inspector for public schools, and her father was an air force officer. As a child, she was good in sports, particularly track and field. In her sophomore year of high school, she moved to Seoul and attended Bulgok High School, despite the objections of her strict and conservative father. She then entered Dongguk University, where she joined the theater and film department.[2]


2003–2006: BeginningsEdit

Han was first discovered in a teenage beauty pageant organized by food corporation Binggrae in 2003. She began her acting career in the sitcom Nonstop 5 and the gangster comedy film My Boss, My Teacher.[3][4] Han later raised her profile by starring in Spring Waltz, the fourth and final installment of TV director Yoon Seok-ho's "season drama" series.[5]

In 2006, director Lee Yoon-ki cast Han in the starring role in his low-budget independent film Ad-lib Night, which follows a young woman who rediscovers herself through an eerie overnight encounter with strangers.[6] She won the Best New Actress awards at the Korean Association of Film Critics Awards and Singapore International Film Festival for her performance.

2007–2010: Breakthrough roles and overseas popularityEdit

Han then starred in two highly successful TV projects and rose to fame - KBS daily drama Heaven & Earth with Park Hae-jin in 2007,[7] and SBS masked-adventurer series Iljimae with Lee Joon-gi in 2008.[8] Both dramas drew solid viewership ratings nationwide throughout its run with high viewer ratings and launched Han into a household name. Afterwards, she was cast in another indie film, Ride Away, which debuted at the 2008 Jeonju International Film Festival.[9]

Han then filmed the Korean-Japanese telecinema co-production Heaven's Postman, which also featured pop star Jaejoong from TVXQ (now JYJ).[10] After several postponements, it was released in theaters in late 2009, and broadcast on TV in 2010.

Han's breakthrough came in Brilliant Legacy costarring Lee Seung-gi, which became a massive hit in 2009, reaching a peak viewership rating of 47.1%.[11][12][13] It catapulted Han to stardom, and after the drama's conclusion, she experienced a sharp rise in endorsement deals and media requests for interviews, as well as increased pan-Asian popularity.[14][15] Later that year Han wrapped up her starring role in the musical drama Soul Special, which aired on KBS Joy.[16]

In 2010, Han took on the titular character in MBC's 49th anniversary project Dong Yi,[17][18] The series became a hit during its run both domestically and across Asia.[19][20] Han won several acting awards for her portrayal of Choi Suk-bin, including the Daesang (Grand Prize) award at MBC Drama Awards and the coveted Best Actress award at Baeksang Arts Awards.[21][22]

2011–2015: Film rolesEdit

In 2011, Han played a blind telemarketer opposite So Ji-sub's ex-boxer in the melodrama film Always.[23] Helmed by director Song Il-gon, it premiered as the opening film of the 2011 Busan International Film Festival.[24][25][26] Han later contributed voice narration to the "barrier-free" version of Japanese film My Back Page, which features descriptive audio and subtitles for people with hearing or visual impairments.[27][28]

Han then played the queen to Lee Byung-hun's Gwanghae in the 2012 blockbuster period film Masquerade,[29][30] which became one of the highest-grossing Korean films of all time. She followed that with Love 911, an unlikely romance between a doctor and a firefighter (Go Soo).[31][32]

Han Hyo-joo at the 34th Blue Dragon Film Awards in November 2013

In 2013, Han starred opposite Sol Kyung-gu and Jung Woo-sung in action thriller Cold Eyes, a remake of the 2007 Hong Kong film Eye in the Sky.[33][34] The film dominated the box office after its release and became one of the biggest domestic hits of 2013.[35] Han received acting recognition for her performance, winning Best Actress from the Blue Dragon Film Awards and Buil Film Awards.[36][37]

In 2014, Han and Love 911 costar Go Soo reunited in Myohyangsangwan ("View of Mount Myohyang"), which depicts the rendezvous of a South Korean painter and a North Korean waitress in a North Korean restaurant. The short film is a collaboration by contemporary artists Moon Kyung-won and Jeon Joon-ho, and combined a theatrical plot, experimental imagery, dance and performance art.[38][39]

She then ventured into the overseas market by starring in her first Japanese film, Isshin Inudo's Miracle: Debikuro-kun no Koi to Maho ("Miracle Devil Claus' Love and Magic"). Set during the Christmas season, the film is a love story about a kind bookstore employee (played by Masaki Aiba from J-pop boyband Arashi) who meets three women.[40][41]

In 2015, Han starred in the musical biopic C'est Si Bon, which depicted the ups and downs of the folk music group Twin Folio, which was active from the 1960s to 80s. Famous for its live performances, C'est Si Bon was the name of a popular music lounge located in Mugyo-dong in the 1970s, where Twin Folio got its start; Han played the group's muse.[42] This was followed by romantic comedy film The Beauty Inside, where Han's character falls in love with a man who changes to different people every day.[43][44]

Later that year, Han got together with Yoo Yeon-seok and Chun Woo-hee, both of her co-stars in The Beauty Inside, again for Love, Lies, a movie which depicts the last story of gisaeng during the Japanese occupation in the 1940s.[45][46]

2016–present: Television comeback and American advancementEdit

In 2016, Han returned to the small screen with MBC's fantasy suspense series W alongside Lee Jong-suk.[47] Helmed by director Jung Dae-yoon who directed She Was Pretty and writer Song Jae-jung whose previous works include Nine: Nine Time Travels and Queen In-hyun's Man, expectations were high as this marked Han's return to the small screen after 6 years.[48][49] She won the Top Excellence award at the 5th APAN Star Awards and MBC Drama Awards for her performance in W.

In 2018, Han starred in the thriller Golden Slumber alongside Kang Dong-won.[50] The same year, she reunited with Kang as the female lead in sci-fi action thriller Illang: The Wolf Brigade, based on the Japanese animated flick of the same name.[51][52][53]

In 2019, Han was confirmed as part of the main cast of American television series Treadstone, an offshoot from Universal's Bourne franchise.[54][55]

In 2020, Han was cast in a Japanese action film Taiyō wa Ugokanai ("The Sun Stands Still"), directed by Eiichiro Hasumi. Based on the novel of the same name, Han plays an elusive and mysterious spy who travels across the world on adventures whilst hiding her true intentions.[56]

In 2021, Han acted as a member of a counter-terrorist squad in the apocalyptic thriller drama Happiness, starring opposite Park Hyung-sik. Directed by Ahn Gil-Ho, the drama depicted class discrimination, conflicting human desires and the struggle for survival amongst a group of house-owners in an apartment in Korea due to a mysterious virus outbreak that threatens the livelihood of the inhabitants in a city.[57]

In 2022, Han stars alongside Kang Ha-neul and Lee Kwang-soo in The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure, the sequel to the 2014 blockbuster The Pirates. She plays the role of Hae-rang, the captain of the pirate ship.[58] The film marks her return to Korean cinema after 4 years since Illang: The Wolf Brigade. In October, Han made a special appearance in the film 20th Century Girl, playing the adult version of Kim Yoo-jung's character.[59]

Personal lifeEdit

Han is trilingual, able to speak Korean, English and Japanese.[60]


In May 2022, Han donated 50 million won to Asan Medical Center, and also donated 50 million won in 2021. It will be used for the cost of treatment such as surgery so that young patients do not miss treatment due to economic burdens.[61]


Legal action allegationsEdit

In November 2013, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office indicted Han's ex-manager from her former agency Fantom Entertainment for attempted extortion. According to the police, the ex-manager surnamed Lee illegally transferred 16 photos of Han and her ex-boyfriend from her digital camera to his mobile phone. Lee then threatened to publish the compromising photos unless he and his two accomplices were paid ₩400 million; Han's father paid them ₩10 million. In a press release, Han's agency BH Entertainment said the actress did not engage in any activities that deserve public criticism and threatened "strong measures" to deal with blackmail.[62][63]

In September 2014, the South Korean media reported that a petition was being circulated to boycott Han's appearance in TV commercials.[64] The petition stemmed from Han's younger brother allegedly bullying a fellow airman while both were in mandatory military service that resulted in the latter's suicide. The negative publicity was exacerbated by Han herself having once been appointed as a goodwill ambassador for the Republic of Korea Air Force.[65]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
English Korean
2006 My Boss, My Teacher 투사부일체 Yoo Mi-jung [4]
Ad-lib Night 아주 특별한 손님 Bo-kyung Independent film [6]
2008 Ride Away 달려라 자전거 Im Ha-jung [9]
My Dear Enemy 멋진 하루 Woman at the bus stop / Voice on the phone Cameo
2009 Heaven's Postman 천국의 우편배달부 Jo Hana / Saki Tele Cinema (also aired on SBS) [10]
2011 Always 오직 그대만 Ha Jeong-hwa [23]
2012 Masquerade 광해, 왕이 된 남자 Queen Consort [29]
Love 911 반창꼬 Go Mi-soo [32]
2013 Cold Eyes 감시자들 Ha Yoon-ju [33]
2014 Miracle: Devil Claus' Love and Magic MIRACLE デビクロくんの恋と魔法 Tae So-yeon Japanese film [40]
View of Mount Myohyang 묘향상관 Oh Yeong-ran Short film [38]
2015 C'est Si Bon 쎄시봉 Min Ja-young [42]
The Beauty Inside 뷰티 인사이드 Hong Yi-soo [44]
2016 Love, Lies 해어화 Jung So-yul [45]
2018 Golden Slumber 골든 슬럼버 Jeon Sun-young [50]
Illang: The Wolf Brigade 인랑 Lee Yoon-hee [51]
2021 The Sun Does Not Move 太陽は動かない Ayako Japanese film [56][66]
2022 The Pirates: The Last Royal Treasure 해적: 도깨비 깃발 Hae-rang [67][58]
20th Century Girl 20세기 소녀 Adult Na Bo-ra Special appearance; Netflix film [68]
TBA Believer 2 독전2 Keunkal Netflix film [69]

Television seriesEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
English Korean
2005 Nonstop 5 논스톱 5 Han Hyo-joo Episode 167, 183-257 [3]
2006 Spring Waltz 봄의 왈츠 Seo / Park Eun-young [5]
2007 Heaven & Earth 하늘만큼 땅만큼 Suk Ji-soo [7]
2008 Iljimae 일지매 Eun-chae [8]
2009 Brilliant Legacy 찬란한 유산 Go Eun-sung [12]
Soul Special 쏘울 스페셜 Jin Mi-ah Short drama [16]
2010 Dong Yi 동이 Dong-yi (later Choi Suk-bin) [17]
2016 W 더블유 Oh Yeon-joo [47]
2019 Treadstone N/A So-yun American series [54]
2021 Happiness 해피니스 Yoon Sae-bom [57]

Web seriesEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
English Korean
2021 Dramaworld 2 드라마월드 시즌2 Park So-Yun Cameo [70]
2023 Moving 무빙 Lee Mi-yeon [71]
TBA Dominant Species 지배종 Yoon Ja-yu [72]

Television showsEdit

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
English Korean
2005–2006 Inkigayo 인기가요 Host with Andy
2021 On Rent: House on Wheels Cast Member with the cast of The Pirates 2 [73]

Music video appearancesEdit

Year Song title Artist Album Ref.
2004 "I Love You" (사랑해요) Simply Sunday I Love You
2005 "Just because you are in this world" (그대가 이 세상에 있는 것만으로도) Position Renaissance
"Paris" Epik High Swan Songs
"Farewell is" (이별은) U Farewell is...
2006 "One Love" Loveholic Spring Waltz OST [74]
2009 "All men are like that" (남잔 다 그래) Lee Woo-sang One Fine Day
"Let's break up" (헤어져) As One Love Tonic
"wo are better" (둘이 더 좋아) Rumble Fish Soul Special OST
"Sudden Burst of Tears" (왈칵 눈물이) Han Hyo-joo feat. Gan-D of buga kingz [75]
"Unable To Love" (사랑한단 말을 못해서)(ver.1) K.Will
2010 "Don't You Know" Han Hyo-joo, No Reply Han Hyo-joo with GMF 2010 [76]
"Popcorn" (팝콘) (GMF 2010 Lozik RMX) Daybreak
2012 "Hide and Seek" (숨바꼭질) Han Hyo-joo, Broccoli, You Too? Hide and Seek [77]



Title Year Album
"It's the First Time" (처음이었어요) 2005 Nonstop 5 OST
"Ride Away" (달려라 자전거) 2008 Ride Away OST[74]
"Sudden Burst of Tears" (왈칵 눈물이)
(Han Hyo-joo feat. Gan-D of buga kingz)
2009 Soul Special OST[75]
"You" (CF Ver.)(그대)
(Brown Eyed Soul feat. Han Hyo-joo)
2010 You[78]
"Don't You Know"
(Han Hyo-joo, No Reply)
Han Hyo-joo with GMF 2010[76]
"8 A.M." (아침 8시)
(My-Q feat. Han Hyo-joo)
2011 8 A.M[79]
"Oh Seoul"(오 서울)
(M-Q feat. Han Hyo-joo)
"Time for Love" (연애시대)
(Lee Seung-gi feat. Ra.D)
(narr. Han Hyo-joo)
Time for Love [80]
"Hide and Seek" (숨바꼭질)
(with Broccoli, You Too?)
2012 Hide and Seek[77]
"Let us forget" (이젠 잊기로 해요) 2015 C'est Si Bon OST
"I'll Give It All To You" (나 그대에게 모두 드리리)
(with Jung Woo)
"Love, Lies" (사랑 거즛말이) 2016 Love, Lies OST [81]
"Spring lady" (봄 아가씨)
(with Chun Woo-hee)

Awards and nominationsEdit

Name of the award ceremony, year presented, category, nominee of the award, and the result of the nomination
Award ceremony Year Category Nominee / Work Result Ref.
Andre Kim Best Star Awards 2009 Female Star Award Han Hyo-joo Won [82]
APAN Star Awards 2016 Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries W Won [83]
Best Couple Award Han Hyo-joo with Lee Jong-suk Nominated
Asian Film Awards 2014 Best Actress Cold Eyes Nominated
Baeksang Arts Awards 2010 Best Actress – Television Brilliant Legacy Nominated
2011 Dong Yi Won [22]
Most Popular Actress – Television Nominated
2013 Best Actress – Film Love 911 Nominated
2016 The Beauty Inside Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards 2013 Best Leading Actress Cold Eyes Won [36]
2015 The Beauty Inside Nominated
Blue Dragon Series Awards 2022 Best Leading Actress Happiness Nominated [84]
Popular Star Award Won [85]
Buil Film Awards 2013 Best Actress Cold Eyes Won [37]
2016 The Beauty Inside Nominated
2018 Popular Star Award Illang: The Wolf Brigade Nominated
BIFF with Marie Claire Asia Star Awards 2016 Asia Star Award Love, Lies, The Beauty Inside Won [86]
CETV Asia's Top 10 Popular Star Awards 2012 Hallyu Star Prize Han Hyo-joo Won [87]
Grand Bell Awards 2016 Best Actress The Beauty Inside Nominated
Hong Kong Cable TV Awards 2011 Dong Yi Won [88]
KBS Drama Awards 2006 Best New Actress Spring Waltz Nominated
2007 Heaven & Earth Nominated
Popularity Award Won [89]
Best Couple Award Han Hyo-joo with Park Hae-jin
Heaven & Earth
Korean Association of Film Critics Awards 2006 Best New Actress Ad-lib Night Won [90]
2013 Best Actress Cold Eyes Nominated
Korea Best Dressed Swan Awards 2007 Best Dressed Han Hyo-joo Won [91]
Korea Drama Awards 2010 Top Excellence Award, Actress Dong Yi Won [92]
Korean Film Actor's Association Awards 2015 Top Star Award The Beauty Inside Won [93]
Korea Jewelry Awards 2008 Pearl Award Han Hyo-joo Won
Korea World Youth Film Festival 2013 Favorite Actress Cold Eyes Won [94]
Max Movie Awards 2016 Best Actress The Beauty Inside Nominated
MBC Drama Awards 2010 Grand Prize (Daesang) Dong Yi Won [21]
Top Excellence Award, Actress Nominated
Popularity Award Won
2016 Grand Prize (Daesang) W Nominated [95]
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Won
Best Couple Award Han Hyo-joo with Lee Jong-suk
Miss Binggrae Smile Pageant 2003 Grand Prize Han Hyo-joo Won
Mnet 20's Choice Awards 2009 Hot Female Drama Star Brilliant Legacy Won [96]
SBS Drama Awards 2008 New Star Award Iljimae Won [97]
2009 Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Planning Drama Brilliant Legacy Won [98]
Top 10 Stars Won
Best Couple Award Han Hyo-joo with Lee Seung-gi
Brilliant Legacy
Seoul International Drama Awards 2010 Outstanding Korean Actress Brilliant Legacy Won [99]
Singapore International Film Festival 2007 Best Actress Ad-lib Night Won [100]

State honorsEdit

Name of country, year given, and name of honor
Country Or Organization Year Honor Or Award Ref.
Taxpayers' Day 2011 Presidential Commendation as Honest Taxpayer [101]


Name of publisher, year listed, name of listicle, and placement
Publisher Year Listicle Placement Ref.
Forbes 2011 Korea Power Celebrity 36th [102]
2012 30th [103]
2013 31st [104]
2014 35th [citation needed]
2017 38th [105]


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