Ha Ji-won

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Ha Ji-won
Ha Ji-won.jpg
In July 2013
Born Jeon Hae-rim
(1978-06-28) 28 June 1978 (age 40)
Seoul, South Korea
Education Bachelor of Film and Television
Alma mater Dankook University
Occupation Actress
Years active 1996–present
  • Wellmade STARM
  • Haewadal Entertainment
  • United Talent Agency
  • BM+ Entertainment
  • Invincible Plan (China)
Relatives Jun Tae-soo (brother)
Korean name
Revised Romanization Ha Ji-won
McCune–Reischauer Ha Chiwŏn
Birth name
Revised Romanization Jeon Hae-rim
McCune–Reischauer Chǒn Haerim

Jeon Hae-rim (Hangul전해림; born 28 June 1978), better known by her stage name Ha Ji-won (Hangul하지원) is a South Korean actress. She is best known for the historical dramas Damo (2003), Hwang Jini (2006), Empress Ki (2013), as well as the melodrama Something Happened in Bali (2004), the romantic comedy series Secret Garden (2010) and the medical drama Hospital Ship (2017).

She has starred in several films and television series, and is one of South Korea's most sought after and critically acclaimed actresses,[1][2][3] particularly known for her versatility in pulling off roles in various genres such as action, comedy, horror, drama, and sports.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Early life and education[edit]

Jeon Hae-rim was scouted by an agency when she was a senior high school student. The actress stated, "Ever since I was a little kid, I dreamed of becoming an actress. When I was a senior in high school, an agency contacted me after seeing my picture at a photography studio." She later graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Film and Television (BFTV) in Dankook University. In 2012, the actress revealed that she had failed over 100 auditions before her debut, "I passed my college entrance and written exams and was accepted to the department of theater and film. Before my debut, I auditioned for 100 or so projects but didn’t get the roles."[10]

Jeon candidly revealed that she adopted "Ha Ji-won" as her stage name as a favor for her previous manager as it was the name of his first love. "When I was about to debut, the first love of my manager's name was Ha Ji-won. I think he wanted to at least use the name of his love that was not fulfilled. The first time I heard the name Ha Ji-won, I thought it was pretty and also bold."[11]


1996–2002: Beginnings and rising popularity[edit]

Ha Ji-won made her TV debut in the 1996 teen drama, New Generation Report: Adults Don’t Understand Us. She continued playing supporting roles in dramas, Dragon's Tears and Dangerous Lullaby in 1998 and 1999 respectively. But it was through the popular high school drama School 2, in which she played the role of a troubled teen, that she started to gain fame as an actress.[12][13]

In January 2007

In 2000, Ha made her film debut in the thriller, Truth Game, alongside Ahn Sung-ki, where she was chosen for the role from a pool of 1,500 prospective candidates.[14][15] For her portrayal of a bipolar character, Ha was awarded Best New Actress at the 37th Grand Bell Awards and 1st Busan Film Critics Awards. The same year, she starred in Ahn Byeong-ki's horror movie Nightmare, and sci-fi romance film Ditto, which won her the Best Supporting Actress award at the 21st Blue Dragon Film Awards.[16] Later, Ha reunited with Ditto co-star Kim Ha-neul in the drama, Secret, playing an antagonist role.[17] The drama earned her Best Rookie Actress recognition at the MBC Drama Awards and 37th Baeksang Arts Awards[18]

In 2001, Ha had her first leading role in Beautiful Life, where she played the role of a chaebol hotelier's daughter, opposite Kim Rae-won.[19] This was followed by another starring role in Days in the Sun opposite Ji Sung.[20]

The following year, in 2002, Ha reunited with director Ahn Byeong-ki in horror movie, Phone. The film was a huge success in Korea and was also a hit in Italy,[21] officially dubbing her as "Asia's Horror Princess".[13][9] Following Phone in the same year was Yoon Je-kyoon's American Pie-inspired movie, Sex Is Zero, co-starring Im Chang-jung. The movie was the 3rd most popular Korean movie in 2002 and ranked 5th among all films released in that year,[22] winning Ha the Popularity Award at the 39th Baeksang Arts Awards.

2003–2005: Mainstream success[edit]

In 2003, Ha starred in her first historical drama, Damo.[23] Damo was highly popular among viewers in their 20s and 30s and turned into a cultural phenomenon.[24] Ha's performance as a lowly police detective was highly praised and she was given the Top Excellence award at the MBC Drama Awards.

In November 2009

In 2004, she starred in the heavy melodrama, What Happened in Bali, alongside Jo In-sung and So Ji-sub. What Happened in Bali was a huge success, with its final episode reaching a peak rating of 39.7%,[25] and won Ha the coveted Best Actress recognition at the 40th Baeksang Arts Awards. Ha also appeared in two films, internet fiction themed movie, 100 Days with Mr. Arrogant opposite Kim Jae-won[26] and romantic comedy, Love, So Divine with Kwon Sang-woo.[23][27] However, both films were not as successful with audiences.[28]

Ha then played the role of the female protagonist in Daddy-Long-Legs, which was inspired by the novel of the same title written by Jean Webster.[23] She also starred in Lee Myung-se's martial arts film, Duelist, opposite Kang Dong-won.[29] The movie also had her reunited with Korea's National Actor, Ahn Sung-ki, whom she had previously worked with in Truth Game. At the 26th Blue Dragon Awards where Ha won the Popularity Award, she quoted Director Lee's line, "An actor never stops learning." which she said she had always been applying in her life as an actress.

2006–2009: Critical acclaim[edit]

In 2006, Ha starred in Hwang Jini, a period drama based on the real-life history of the character of Hwang Jini, who lived in 16th-century Joseon and is considered the most famous gisaeng in the Korean history.[30][31] The series was a huge ratings success,[32] giving rise to a boom in gisaeng-themed entertainment—musicals, TV dramas, films, even cartoons.[33][34] Ha's performance won her the Grand Prize (Daesang) at the 2006 KBS Drama Awards.[35]

In July 2011

In 2007, Ha challenged herself in the role of a female boxer in the comedy film, Miracle on 1st Street.[36] Coming from the team behind Sex Is Zero, the movie ended up as the 5th most popular movie in that year.[37] She then took on the role of a pianist in Miracle of a Giving Fool, which was based on a popular webcomic and won her the Popularity Award at the 44th Baeksang Arts Awards.[38]

In 2009, Ha worked with Director Yoon Je-kyoon for the third time in the blockbuster disaster film Haeundae. The movie was funded by CJ Entertainment with a budget estimated at US$10–15 million, one of the largest for a Korean production.[39] Haeundae was met with both critical and commercial success. It was the 4th highest-grossing film in South Korea then, giving Ha the honor of "The 10 Million Movie Actress" for bringing the glory of more than 10 million audiences.[40] She then starred in Park Jin-pyo's melodrama Closer to Heaven.[41] Ha's heartfelt performance in the film won her the Best Actress Award at the 30th Blue Dragon Film Awards and 46th Baeksang Arts Awards.[42][43]

2010–2016: International popularity[edit]

After taking a 4-year break from dramas, Ha made a very successful comeback through the 2010 hit drama, Secret Garden, written by famous writer Kim Eun-sook.[44] She played the role of a stunt woman, who magically switches bodies with a wealthy CEO character (played by Hyun Bin). Proven to be a commercial success, the drama series brought in high domestic ratings and garnered much interest regarding its fashion, catchphrases and music.[45][46] Ha was awarded the prestige Best Actress at the Grimae Awards.

Ha then starred in science fiction 3D movie, Sector 7. Although the film failed to do well in South Korea, it was a hit in China, garnering over 20 million yuan in China after just one week, beating previous records set by 200 Pounds Beauty at 16 million yuan.[47] Ha had spent eight hours a day swimming and training with weights to get in shape for the role, obtained a scuba diving certificate and motor license in a week to "immerse" herself in character.[48]

In January 2015

In 2012, Ha starred in alternate history drama The King 2 Hearts opposite Lee Seung-gi, playing the role of a North Korean Special Forces Officer who married a South Korean crown prince as a political strategy.[49] It was also revealed that Ha had studied the North Korean dialect to make her portrayal of the character more realistic and genuine.[50] Ha then acted in sports film As One, playing the role of a South Korean table tennis player.[51] It was reported that Hyun Jung-hwa, whom Ha portrayed in the film, picked her as the first choice to portray the role.[52] As Ha had simultaneously portrayed a North and South Korean character on the small and big screen,[53] she was dubbed as "The Flower of Reunification" for crossing boundaries of the two nation.[54][55]

In 2013, Ha was awarded her second Daesang award for her performance as the titular character in the hit historical drama Empress Ki.[56][57] The drama achieved high viewership ratings throughout its run on MBC,[58] and was also well-received overseas; particularly in Taiwan, where the drama reached a peak rating of 5.35%, making it the second Korean drama to surpass the 5 percent mark in ratings.[59] Ha, together with Kang Ye-won and Son Ga-in of Brown Eyed Girls, then starred in the Charlie's Angels-inspired action fusion saeguk, The Huntresses.[60][61]

In 2015, Ha was cast by Ha Jung-woo to play his character's wife in his self-directed movie, Chronicle of a Blood Merchant, a film adaption of the bestselling 1995 Chinese novel of the same title written by Yu Hua.[62] Following that, Ha, alongside actor Lee Jin-wook starred in the Korean remake of the 2011 hit Taiwanese drama In Time with You, titled The Time We Were Not in Love.[63] She reportedly earned a salary of 50 million won or approximately US$43,000 per episode of the drama, making her one of the highest paid actresses in South Korean television.[64] However, in contrast to her previous dramas, The Time We Were Not in Love received low ratings and Ha's performance was called into question.[65][66]

In 2016, Ha starred in the South Korea-China co-production film, Life Risking Romance, alongside Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin.[67][68]

2017–present: TV comeback[edit]

In 2017, Ha starred in Manhunt, an international co-production by Hong Kong director John Woo.[69][70] She played a female assassin in the film.[71]

Ha returned to the small screen with MBC's medical drama Hospital Ship, which started airing in August 2017.[72] She plays an ambitious surgeon who finds herself on a hospital ship.[73] She won the Top Excellence Award at the MBC Drama Awards for her role.[74]

In 2018, Ha was cast in the spy thriller drama Prometheus: War of Fire, playing a NIS agent tasked with a secret mission to denuclearize North Korea.[75][76] The same year, she joined tvN's space themed variety show, Galileo: Awakened Universe, her first variety show since debut.[77]

Other activities[edit]


Ha Ji-won made an appearance in the music video of Wax's debut song, Mother's Diary in 2000. Soon after, she performed Wax's song, Oppa on stage.[78]

Ha released her debut album Home Run in 2003. The eponymous single from the album Home Run, featuring singer Psy, was later used as the OST for her movie Reversal of Fortune.[79]

After an eight-year hiatus on stage, Ha performed with her labelmates AA for their debut at the K-pop Super Concert in 2011.[80]

On June 13, 2014, Ha released a digital single, Now In This Place, for the fans who had been supportive of her drama Empress Ki. The lyrics of the song was written by the scriptwriter of Empress Ki, Jung Kyung Soon; and composed and produced by popular music producer Jae Chong (also known as Jung Jae-yoon).[81]

In June 2015, Ha released a self-written song, You Are Zoe, featuring ZE:A's Heechul. She personally wrote the song while working on OnStyle's Go Go with Sister in Grasse, France. The track was composed by singer The Film.[82]

Fashion, books and film[edit]

In 2012, Ha gave a lecture on movie production in China as part of CJ CGV’s cultural exchange program Toto’s Workroom.[83] As part of her contract with fashion label Crocodile Lady, Ha launched her own "Secret Jeans" line and designed a handbag for the brand which was sold for 179,200 won ($157).[84] The same year, she published her first book “This Moment”.[85]


In 2013, Ha was reported to be leaving Wellmade STARM, her agency for 10 years. She declined all the calls sent by other agencies with giant contracts and decided to establish her own one-person agency Haewadal Entertainment (lit. Sun and Moon Entertainment) instead.[86] Also in the same year, Ha signed with United Talent Agency, one of the largest talent agencies in the world, for her Hollywood venture.[87][88]

After establishing her own agency, Haewadal Entertainment, Ha simultaneously signed a contract with BM+ Entertainment to manage her activities abroad.[89] In the same year, Ha signed with Invincible Plan to manage her Chinese ventures.[90]




Year Title
2003 Home Run

Digital singles[edit]

Year Song Title Ref.
2014 Now In This Place
2015 You Are Zoe
(Ha Ji Won Feat. Heechul Of ZE:A)


Year Title Type Ref.
2012 At This Moment Memoir [85]
2015 Ha Ji-won's Secret Photo Book [91]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2000 37th Grand Bell Awards Best New Actress Truth Game Won
1st Busan Film Critics Awards Won
21st Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Ditto Won [16]
2000 MBC Drama Awards Best New Actress Secret Won
2001 37th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (TV) Won [18]
24th Golden Cinematography Awards Popularity Award Truth Game Won
2002 3rd Korea Visual Arts Festival Photogenic Award Sex Is Zero Won
2003 39th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actress (Film) Won
2003 MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Damo Won
Popularity Award Won
Best Couple Award (with Lee Seo-jin) Won
2004 40th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) What Happened in Bali Won
2004 SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Won
Top 10 Stars Won
2005 26th Blue Dragon Film Awards Popularity Award Duelist Won [92]
2006 2006 KBS Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Hwang Jini Won [35]
Top Excellence Award, Actress Nominated
Netizen Popularity Award Won [93]
Best Couple Award (with Jang Keun-suk) Won
2007 34th Korean Broadcasting Awards Best Actress Won
BNT 32nd Golden Chest International TV Festival Won
43rd Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Nominated
2008 44th Baeksang Arts Awards Most Popular Actress (Film) Miracle of a Giving Fool Won
3rd Asia Model Festival Awards Popular Star Award N/A Won
2009 2nd Style Icon Asia Actress of the Year N/A Won [94]
Fun Fearless Female N/A Won
3rd Mnet 20's Choice Awards HOT Movie Star (Female) Haeundae Won
5th Korean University Films Festival Best Actress Won [95]
30th Blue Dragon Film Awards Closer to Heaven Won [96][42]
Popularity Award Won
2010 46th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (Film) Won [43]
2010 SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special Secret Garden Won [97]
Top 10 Stars Won
Netizen Popularity Award Won
Best Couple Award (with Hyun Bin) Won
2011 47th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (TV) Nominated
6th Seoul International Drama Awards Outstanding Korean Actress Nominated
4th Korea Drama Awards Best Actress Nominated
24th Grimae Awards Won
2012 16th Bucheon International Fantastic Film Festival Producer's Choice N/A Won [98]
6th Mnet 20's Choice Awards 20's Drama Actress The King 2 Hearts Nominated
7th Seoul International Drama Awards Best Actress[99] Nominated
Outstanding Korean Actress Nominated
1st K-Drama Star Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Nominated
2012 MBC Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
Best Couple Award (with Lee Seung-gi) Nominated
2013 49th Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress (Film) As One Nominated
2013 MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Empress Ki Won [57]
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Project Drama Nominated
PD Award Won [100]
Popularity Award, Actress Won
2014 9th Seoul International Drama Awards Best Actress Nominated
2015 2015 SBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries The Time We Were Not in Love Nominated
Netizen Popularity Award Nominated
Best Couple Award (with Lee Jin-wook) Nominated
2016 8th Style Icon Asia Style Icon N/A Won [101]
2017 2017 MBC Drama Awards Grand Prize (Daesang) Hospital Ship Nominated
Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Won [74]
Popularity Award, Actress Nominated

Other recognition[edit]

Year Award Category
2008 Korean Popular Culture & Arts Award Prime Minister's Award
Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs - Family Month Event
2011 48th Korea Savings Day Prime Minister's Award for Savings[102]
2012 Samsung Sparking Night Lady 9 Award (Shining Lady of 2012)

Social activities[edit]


Year Event Title Country
2002 Puchon Film Festival PiFan Lady[103] South Korea
2008–present New Zealand's Cultural Ambassador to Korea[104][105][106] New Zealand
2012 2012 Summer Olympics Honorary Coach[107] South Korea
2014 National Tax Service Promotional Ambassador (with Gong Yoo)[108]
2014 Cartier Muse[109] South Korea, Taiwan
2014–present Operation Smile Smile International Ambassador[110] Worldwide
2015–present Hanbok Day Hanbok Ambassador[111] South Korea
2015–present Golden Horse Film Festival and Awards Piaget Altiplano Ambassador[112] Taiwan
2016–present Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo 2016 Honorary Ambassador (with Winner)[113] China
  • Ha Ji-won is the first Asian woman and second Asian after Jackie Chan to be named promotional ambassador for Operation Smile.[114]


Ha does charity work with her fans on a regular basis.[115] such as delivering coal to Bangbae-dong,[116]

Although organ donation was not common in South Korea at that time in January 2005, Ha Ji-won made the pledge to donate her cornea through the Organ Donation Center of Love. The actress shared, "When I was in crisis of becoming blind in May of 2004 because of damaged cornea in my left eye while filming, but one prisoner sent me a letter expressing his willing to donate his own cornea to me, I was very thankful and greatly touched. I want to be of help to the visually impaired. It's shocking and pitiful that we import cornea from other countries."[117]

Ha has also played an active role in helping underprivileged and disabled children, running a donation project named Smile Again Foundation with Gangnam-gu Family Welfare Center. The project was supplemented by Ha Ji-won's fan club members while she went the extra mile to ensure the sustainability of the project.[118] Ha was conferred the Prime Minister's Award for the '2008 Family Month Event', in recognition of her consistent and active hard work in contributing to programs for poor and handicapped families.[119]

In 2012, Ha donated the proceeds from her first book, At This Moment, to charity. The recipients of the book earnings, children's aid group Choi Kyung Joo Foundation and Yonsei University Hospital, announced their decision to set up a scholarship for prospective arts students and to subsidize treatment for deaf and blind children respectively. Sponsored by Ha, the organization has set up a "Hartist" (Ha + artist) scholarship to sponsor students who dream of careers in art.[120]

Together with fellow actor Song Joong-ki, Ha attended Medical Korea 2013 Sharing Medical Treatment Commemorative Event, an event hosted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, promoting greater international co-operation for medical technology and positive medical tourism. During the event, both actors spent time with recovering children and received an award for their previous efforts in promoting the sharing of medical services.[121]

In 2015, Ha, fashion icon Ko So-young, and figure skater Yuna Kim designed bags in cooperation with the Italian luxury brand Fendi. The bags were offered via Seoul Peekaboo Project auction to raise funds for the charity. As Operation Smile's Ambassador, Ha decided to donate the proceeds from the bag she designed to Operation Smile, a NGO that performs cleft lip and cleft palate surgery and delivers postoperative and ongoing medical therapies to children in low and middle income countries.[122]

In 2016, Ha donated W100 million (US$W1,039) to help victims of ferry disaster.[123]


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  119. ^ "Ha Ji-won, Prime Minister Award for Ministry for Health, Welfare, and Family Affairs". Hancinema. 
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External links[edit]