Ha Jung-woo

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This is a Korean name; the family name is Kim. In stage/pen name, the surname is Ha.
Ha Jung-woo
Born Kim Sung-hoon
(1978-03-11) March 11, 1978 (age 37)
South Korea
Education Chung-Ang University
School of Performing Arts and Media - Theater
Occupation Actor, film director
Agent Fantagio
Parent(s) Kim Yong-gun
Korean name
Revised Romanization Ha Jeong-u
McCune–Reischauer Ha Chŏng-u
Birth name
Revised Romanization Gim Seong-hun
McCune–Reischauer Kim Sŏng-hun

Ha Jung-woo (born Kim Sung-hoon on March 11, 1978) is a South Korean actor and film director. Ha studied theater at Chung-Ang University, and after several years of minor and supporting parts, he was cast in his first starring role in the low-budget indie The Unforgiven (2005), directed by his friend Yoon Jong-bin. This was followed by Kim Ki-duk's Time (2006), and Never Forever (2007) with Vera Farmiga. But his breakthrough role to stardom was in Na Hong-jin's serial killer film The Chaser (2008). Known to attract both critical acclaim and commercial success, Ha quickly became the most in-demand leading actor of his generation in Korean cinema, showcasing his versatility in road movie My Dear Enemy (2008), sports film Take Off (2009), crime drama The Yellow Sea (2010), gangster saga Nameless Gangster (2012), romantic comedy Love Fiction (2012), spy thriller The Berlin File (2013), and action thriller The Terror Live (2013). He made his directorial debut through the comedy film Fasten Your Seatbelt (2013), followed by Chronicle of a Blood Merchant (2015).

Early life[edit]

Born as Kim Sung-hoon, Ha Jung-woo came from an acting family. His father Kim Yong-gun is a well-known veteran actor who has appeared in many movies and television series, while his younger brother Kim Young-hoon (stage name: Cha Hyun-woo) is an aspiring actor.[1] Ha has said that since he was 4 or 5 years old, he has always dreamed of becoming an actor like his father. Before entering college, Ha studied at a private acting institute and at one point had actor Lee Beom-soo as his instructor. He then enrolled at Chung-Ang University as a theater major, where he acted on the stage.

In 1998, Ha began his military service, working in the Armed Forces Public Relations Department. He put his acting experience to good use during this time, appearing in 10 promotional films for the military.


Ha made his acting debut in the 2002 SBS sitcom Honest Living and his feature film debut in the 2003 film Madeleine. For the next few years, Ha's acting career was relatively low-key, appearing in several supporting roles, but not receiving a lot of attention. Things started to change in 2005. He signed with talent agency SidusHQ and on their recommendation adopted the stage name "Ha Jung-woo."[2] Ha would also appear in his first starring role in the indie film The Unforgiven - a blistering critique of the physical and psychological violence within military ranks.[3] He then appeared in controversial arthouse director Kim Ki-duk's Time and Breath, which brought more notice to his acting talents in Korea and overseas. During this time, his portrayal of a cool-headed prosecutor who is romantically involved with a feisty police officer played by Go Hyun-jung in the popular MBC drama series H.I.T attracted more female fans. He also starred in the American indie film Never Forever opposite Vera Farmiga, which garnered praise from the film festival circuit.[4]

Ha's breakout came in the 2008 film The Chaser, in which he played a character loosely based on serial killer Yoo Young-chul. The movie became a huge hit at the Korean box office, raking in over 5 million ticket sales, while also garnering high praise from critics and numerous awards from local award-giving bodies. Ha's portrayal of a psychopath, coupled with his performance as a charming scoundrel in My Dear Enemy that same year, showcased his versatility and elevated his status as one of the most sought-after actors in the Korean film industry. Since The Chaser, Ha has worked virtually non-stop for the next several years, taking on diverse but compelling roles in The Moonlight of Seoul,[5] Boat, and Take Off. Take Off, based on the Korean national ski jumping team, became one of the biggest box office hits of 2009.[6][7][8]

American director Martin Scorsese, rumored to be attached to a Hollywood remake of The Chaser,[9] has complimented Ha as having as much potential as his The Departed stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon.[10]

Ha reunited with his The Chaser director Na Hong-jin and costar Kim Yoon-seok in Na's sophomore feature The Yellow Sea,[11] which netted Ha Best Actor trophies from the Asian Film Awards, Baeksang Arts Awards and the Korean Association of Film Critics.[12][13][14]

Ha said the legal thriller The Client evoked his early days of theater, and the director praised Ha for his "moments of true brilliance and genius" during the production.[15][16][17]

In early 2012, Samsung Electronics produced an ambitious PPL-frequent-film project featuring Galaxy Note, their latest Tablet hybrid mobile. Titled as Cine Note, the giant project comprises three shorts by directors Kang Hyeong-cheol, Jang Hoon and E J-yong. Ha played the leading role for all the three of the films, while celebrated musician Lee Seung-chul produced music using the device, and noted webtoon artists Son Jae-ho and Lee Gwang-soo created the film’s animated content.[18][19][20]

Nameless Gangster was Ha's third collaboration with longtime friend director Yoon Jong-bin, also starring acclaimed veteran actor Choi Min-sik.[21] This was followed shortly by the unconventional romantic comedy Love Fiction opposite Gong Hyo-jin.[22] Both were box office hits.[23]

After wrapping Love Fiction, Ha along with Gong and 14 other actors went on a cross-country walking trip from Seoul to Haenam, South Jeolla Province. Their journey was chronicled in the documentary 577 Project, denoting the total distance covered in kilometers. Ha was in charge of three aspects of the production including planning, acting and casting. He said he did it to thank fans for their support after he won back-to-back Best Actor awards at the 2010 and 2011 Baeksang Arts Awards.[24][25][26]

In Ryoo Seung-wan's The Berlin File, Ha starred as a North Korean agent in Berlin who is betrayed and cut loose in the midst of a financial espionage intrigue. Together with his wife (a translator at the embassy played by Jun Ji-hyun), they try to escape being purged, with Ryoo Seung-bum and Han Suk-kyu playing North and South Korean operatives on their trail.[27][28][29]

He appeared in 90% of the action thriller The Terror Live, playing a news anchor with an exclusive, live broadcast on a terrorist attack.[30][31][32]

Ha then made his directorial debut with Rollercoaster (released internationally as Fasten Your Seatbelt), based on his own screenplay about the comic interactions between the cabin crew and passengers (including an arrogant Hallyu star played by Jung Kyung-ho) of a flight from Tokyo to Gimpo International Airport which becomes in danger of crashing when the plane hits a major storm.[33][34][32]

Working with Yoon Jong-bin again, Ha played a Joseon era butcher-turned-outlaw in the period action film Kundo: Age of the Rampant.[35][36]

Following that, Ha directed, wrote and starred in Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, a 2015 film adaptation of Chinese author Yu Hua's 1995 novel.[37][38][39][32] He has also been cast in several upcoming films: Choi Dong-hoon's Assassination about resistance fighters given orders to kill a Japanese army commander in the colonial era;[40] a biopic on Andre Kim, Korea's first male fashion designer (Ha previously worked with director Son Young-sung on The Client);[41] and Park Chan-wook's Agasshi, an adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel Fingersmith also set during 1930s Korea.[42]

Other activities[edit]

Ha Jung-woo is also an artist. Though it began as a hobby in his university days, Ha began painting in earnest in 2007. His paintings, all done in a hybrid of Pop art and Expressionist styles,[43] have been displayed in several solo art exhibitions.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51] Critics have said his paintings, with their strong colors and interesting composition[52] are reminiscent of those by American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.[53] "Life as an actor is like living through an invisible war. Paintings soothe me and make me rational. It is too extravagant to say that painting is my hobby; it is rather a way for me to survive as an actor," said Ha.[54][55]

In 2011 he published a compilation of essays titled Ha Jung-woo, Good Feeling. Besides his musings on life, Ha also wrote his thoughts on famous artists such as Pablo Picasso. The book also included about 60 of his own drawings.[56]

Personal life[edit]

Ha dated fashion model Gu Eun-ae from August 2008 to January 2012.[57][58][59]




  • H.I.T (MBC, 2007)
  • Lovers in Prague (SBS, 2005)
  • MBC Best Theater: Loveholic Project (MBC, 2005)
  • Age of Warriors (KBS1, 2003)
  • Wedding Story: Unstoppable Man (KBS, 2003)
  • Wedding Story: My Husband is 19 (KBS, 2003)
  • Honest Living (SBS, 2002)

Music video[edit]




  • Ha Jung-woo, Good Feeling (essays, 2011)



  1. ^ "Ha Jung Woo Reveals Family Matters". KP Culture. 7 August 2009. 
  2. ^ Hong, Lucia (2 September 2011). "Ha Jung-woo renews contract with fantagio". 10Asia. 
  3. ^ Beck, Una (13 May 2011). "A Wild Fugitive". Korea Cinema Today.
  4. ^ "Actor Ha Jung-woo Goes to Sundance Film Festival". KBS Global. 22 January 2007. 
  5. ^ "Actor Goes From Killer to Professional Casanova". The Dong-a Ilbo. 29 April 2008. 
  6. ^ Park, Sun-young (3 July 2009). "Tale of Korea's ski jumpers flies onto the big screen". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  7. ^ Lee, Hoo-nam (1 September 2009). "National ski team schusses to glory, box office gold". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  8. ^ Han, Lisa (1 November 2009). "Korean cinema regains its confidence in 2009/Analysis of the Korean Film Industry 2009". Korean Film Biz Zone.
  9. ^ Darcy Paquet, Michael Fleming (6 March 2008). "Warner Bros. to remake The Chaser". Variety.
  10. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (27 August 2008). "Jeon Do-yeon, Ha Jung-woo as Ex-Lovers". The Korea Times.
  11. ^ Noh, Jean (20 December 2010). "The Yellow Sea of Na Hong-jin". Korea Cinema Today.
  12. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (23 March 2011). "Korean cineastes sweep Asian Film Awards". The Korea Times.
  13. ^ Park, Min-young (29 May 2011). "Hyun Bin, Lee Byung-hun win Paeksang awards". The Korea Herald.
  14. ^ Hong, Lucia (31 October 2011). "The Frontline receives 4 honors by Korean Association of Film Critics". 10Asia.
  15. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (31 August 2011). "Ha Jung-woo confident about Korean-style legal thriller". The Korea Times.
  16. ^ Ki, Sun-min (7 October 2011). "Ha Jung-woo suits up for cinematic Client". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  17. ^ Wee, Geun-woo (24 October 2011). "Actor Ha Jung-woo's Song Picks". 10Asia.
  18. ^ "Cinenote Showcase: Korean celebrities explore the GALAXY Note". Samsung Tomorrow. 12 December 2011. 
  19. ^ Lee, Claire (20 January 2012). "Smartphones help directors look at films from new angles". The Korea Herald.
  20. ^ Lee, Claire (23 November 2012). "Movies based on webtoons flourish". The Korea Herald. 
  21. ^ Jung, Hyun-mok (17 February 2012). "Controversial director tackles corruption in Nameless Gangster". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  22. ^ Kwaak, Je-yup (2 March 2012). "Love Fiction rises above all hype". The Korea Times.
  23. ^ Hong, Lucia (9 April 2012). "Korean movies notch up higher number in 1Q ticket sales". 10Asia.
  24. ^ "On location with THE 577 PROJECT". Korea Cinema Today. 10 August 2012. 
  25. ^ "Ha Jung-woo's 540-kilometer odyssey nears end". Korea JoongAng Daily. 1 December 2011.
  26. ^ "Gong, Ha returning in road trip flick". The Korea Herald. 1 August 2012. 
  27. ^ "Gianna Jun to be in Ryoo's Berlin File". Korean Film Biz Zone. 19 December 2011.
  28. ^ "Ha Jung Woo Says He was Happy to be with Han Seok Gyu for The Berlin File". enewsWorld. 20 January 2013. 
  29. ^ "Interview: Ha Jung Woo Says He Loves Korean Food a Lot". enewsWorld. 13 February 2013. 
  30. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (16 July 2013). "Ha back with deskbound thriller". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  31. ^ Lee, Hyo-won (27 July 2013). "PiFan Closes With Local Thriller The Terror Live". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  32. ^ a b c Lee, Hwa-jung (29 September 2013). "Korean Film Guide to BIFF 2013: Star HA Jung-woo Jack of All Trades". Korean Cinema Today. 
  33. ^ Park, Eun-jee (16 November 2012). "Korean actors find satisfaction off-camera". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  34. ^ Kim, Hyun-min (8 February 2013). "ROLLERCOASTER Mixes Panic with Humor". Korean Film Biz Zone. 
  35. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (13 June 2014). "Chemistry for Ha, Kang in Kundo". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  36. ^ "Ha Jung-woo Talks About Directorial Ambitions". The Chosun Ilbo. 19 July 2014. 
  37. ^ Baek, Byung-yeul (2 January 2015). "Actor Ha back with film adaptation of Chinese novel". The Korea Times. 
  38. ^ Ahn, Sung-mi (14 January 2015). "Herald Interview: Mastering both sides of the camera". The Korea Herald. 
  39. ^ Kim, Hyo-eun; Jin, Eun-soo (27 January 2015). "Ha shows his versatility in Chronicle". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  40. ^ Conran, Pierce (5 September 2014). "CHOI Dong-hoon Plots ASSASSINATION". Korean Film Biz Zone. 
  41. ^ Kim, Hee-eun (21 June 2014). "Ha to star in fashion biopic". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  42. ^ Kim, Su-yeon (14 November 2014). "HA Jung-woo Confirms for PARK Chan-wook's AGASSHI". Korean Film Biz Zone. 
  43. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (18 April 2012). Actor Ha Jung-woo to exhibit his paintings in Seoul and Hong Kong. Korea JoongAng Daily.
  44. ^ "Ha Jung-woo to Open 2nd Solo Art Exhibition". The Chosun Ilbo. 23 June 2010.
  45. ^ Kim, Heidi (17 February 2011). "Ha Jung-woo to hold 3rd art exhibition". 10Asia.
  46. ^ "Ha Jung-woo Brings on the Clowns in New Art Exhibition". The Chosun Ilbo. 26 April 2011.
  47. ^ Sunwoo, Carla (16 March 2012). "Ha Jeong-woo to show off his masterpiece". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  48. ^ Suk, Monica (5 April 2012). "Ha Jung-woo submits paintings to 5th Hong Kong's art fair". 10Asia.
  49. ^ Choi, Eun-hwa (17 April 2012). "How Would You Rate Ha Jung Woo's Paintings?". enewsWorld. 
  50. ^ Sung, So-young (30 January 2015). "Ha Jung-woo shows art in L.A.". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  51. ^ Ahn, Sung-mi (1 March 2015). "Actor Ha holds solo exhibition in LA". K-pop Herald. 
  52. ^ Ko, Kyoung-seok (27 April 2011). "Ha Jung-woo's paintings shown at Seoul art fair". 10Asia.
  53. ^ Sung, So-young (22 April 2012). "Stars play new roles in other media". Korea JoongAng Daily.
  54. ^ Park, Min-young (18 April 2012). "Action with brush in hand". The Korea Herald. 
  55. ^ Yoo, Joo-hyun (28 January 2014). "Ha Jung-woo's film roles bring out his artistic side". Korea JoongAng Daily. 
  56. ^ "Ha Jung Woo's First Attempt as an Author, "Go Hyun Jung Was a Big Help in the Pictures"". AskActor. 15 May 2011.
  57. ^ "Ha and Ku still together, says agent". Korea JoongAng Daily. 9 November 2011.
  58. ^ "Ha Jeong-woo comes clean about breakup following marriage rumors". Korea JoongAng Daily. 8 March 2012.
  59. ^ Lee, In-kyung (7 March 2012). "Ha Jung Woo and Gu Eun Ae Acknowledge Breakup". enewsWorld.

External links[edit]