Lee Han (born 1970) is a South Korean film director and screenwriter. He is best known for the coming-of-age film Punch, which became one of the biggest hits on the South Korean box office in 2011.

Lee Han
Born1970 (age 49–50)
Alma materHanyang University
OccupationFilm director, screenwriter
Years active1996–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Han
McCune–ReischauerI Han


Lee Han graduated from Hanyang University's theater and film program. He first worked as an assistant director on two films for veteran filmmaker Bae Chang-ho: Love Story (1996) and My Heart (1999). In 2002, he wrote and directed his first feature, Lovers' Concerto, a melodrama about three friends caught in a love triangle which starred Cha Tae-hyun, Lee Eun-ju and Son Ye-jin. He then wrote the screenplay for Garden of Heaven (2003), a tearjerker about a hospice doctor who falls for a terminally ill patient, played by Ahn Jae-wook and Lee Eun-joo. Lee was also part of the writing staff of Bodyguard, a 2003 action-comedy television series starring Cha Seung-won.[1]

With his succeeding films, Lee further solidified his reputation as a filmmaker with a keen insight into modern romance. Almost Love (also known as Youth Comic) is a 2006 romantic comedy starring Kwon Sang-woo and Kim Ha-neul about a stuntman and an actress with stage fright.[1][2] My Love (also known as Love, First) is a 2007 Christmas movie which featured an ensemble cast playing multiple couples, namely Kam Woo-sung, Choi Kang-hee, Ryu Seung-ryong, Im Jung-eun, Jung Il-woo, Lee Yeon-hee and Uhm Tae-woong.[3]

But Lee's breakthrough film would be his fourth feature, Punch (2011). Based on Kim Ryeo-ryeong's 2008 bestseller Wandeuk, the film seriously highlighted the issue of multicultural families in a coming-of-age comedy-drama about a poor and rebellious teenage boy (the titular Wandeuk, played by Yoo Ah-in), whose idiosyncratic homeroom teacher and next-door neighbor (Kim Yoon-seok) encourages him to learn more about his Filipino immigrant mother, and their teacher-student relationship helps him mature into a young man.[4][5] After gaining strong word of mouth for its interesting story and charismatic performances, Punch became a surprise box office hit, drawing 5.3 million viewers.[6] It was also invited to the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival; it screened in Generation 14Plus, a competition section of Berlinale devoted to films for teens.[7][8][9][10] Commenting on the film's positive reception, Lee told Yonhap News that the seemingly eclectic ensemble of characters who appear in Punch, though they rarely receive the limelight, are present and active as members of Korean society. He also believed that the warmth and honesty with which he tried to portray these characters and introduce their daily lives was what resonated with viewers.[11]

In 2014, Lee adapted another bestselling novel by Kim Ryeo-ryeong, Elegant Lies (published in 2009).[12] When quizzed about adapting another work by the same author, Lee said that he chose to do so because "the story was interesting as well as meaningful. In fact I turned down the original story at first because it seemed too difficult. However, it captivated and wouldn't let go. I finally made up my mind to deliver this story to show people who thought it couldn't be done. This film was made for the readers who think this family's story is as special as I do."[13] Thread of Lies explores the aftermath of a 14-year-old girl's suicide, as her mother and older sister belatedly learn after her death that she had been an outcast in middle school and a victim of bullying. Kim Hee-ae played the mother, in her first film in 21 years after focusing on television work, opposite a teenage cast composed of Go Ah-sung, Kim Yoo-jung and Kim Hyang-gi.[14]




  1. ^ a b "청춘만화 (Almost Love) Press Screening Report". Twitch Film. 14 March 2006. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  2. ^ Yang, Sung-jin (23 March 2006). "Almost Love mixes romantic comedy with melodrama". The Korea Herald via Hancinema. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  3. ^ Yang, Sung-jin (13 December 2007). "My Love nowhere near Love Actually". The Korea Herald via Hancinema. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  4. ^ Elley, Derek (2 February 2012). "Punch". Film Business Asia. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  5. ^ Kim, Haery (3 February 2012). "Feature profile – Punch, directed by LEE Han". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  6. ^ Paquet, Darcy (18 November 2011). "Box office, November 2–15". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  7. ^ "Berlinale Generation takes Punch". Korean Film Council. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  8. ^ "Korean film Punch invited to Berlin Film Festival". The Korea Times. 15 December 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  9. ^ "Punch to Feature at Berlin Film Fest". The Chosun Ilbo. 16 December 2011. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  10. ^ Lee, Claire (1 February 2012). "Seven Korean films invited to 2012 Berlinale". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  11. ^ Kwon, Jungyun (15 December 2011). "A look back at the year's breakout films". Korea.net. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  12. ^ Ji, Yong-jin (25 April 2013). "Charming and Addictive Korean Films: A message to family, friends and society - An Elegant Lie". Korean Cinema Today. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  13. ^ Song, Soon-jin (24 February 2014). "ELEGANT LIES Press Conference Held". Korean Film Council. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  14. ^ Jin, Eun-soo (21 February 2014). "Elegant Lies looks at family's ugly truths". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 2014-03-02.

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