September 18, 1981
|Revised Romanization||Han Ye-seul|
Han Ye-seul (Hangul: 한예슬; born Leslie Kim on September 18, 1981) is an American-born South Korean actress. She made her acting debut in the sitcom Nonstop 4 (2003), and has since played leading roles in television dramas such as Couple or Trouble (2006), Tazza (2008), and Birth of a Beauty (2014), as well as the films Miss Gold Digger (2007) and Penny Pinchers (2011).
Leslie Kim was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She attended Cerritos High School and graduated from Cerritos College with an associate degree in Computer Graphics. She is fluent in both English and Korean.
She began her modeling career in South Korea after winning the SBS Supermodel Contest in 2001. Under the stage name Han Ye-seul, she made her acting debut in the popular sitcom Nonstop 4 in 2003. Han quickly rose to fame, and she renounced her U.S. citizenship in 2004 and became a naturalized South Korean citizen to continue establishing herself in Korean entertainment. Her performances in Forbidden Love (2004) and That Summer's Typhoon (2005) received poor reviews, with critics dismissing her as primarily a commercial model and not a real actress.
Han proved her detractors wrong with Couple or Trouble (also known as Fantasy Couple, 2006), a remake of Overboard written by the Hong sisters. Playing a spoiled heiress who becomes an amnesiac after a yacht accident, Han was praised for her comic timing and the series was a hit.
She further embraced the screwball comedy genre with her first film Miss Gold Digger (2007). Despite the film's lackluster box office, Han's portrayal of an advertising executive who juggles four different men in order to catch the ideal husband won her several Best New Actress accolades from local award-giving bodies, including the prestigious Grand Bell Awards and Blue Dragon Film Awards.
Han next starred in Tazza (2008), a TV adaptation of Huh Young-man's manhwa of the same name about gamblers and card sharks. This was followed up with the Lee Kyung-hee-penned Will It Snow for Christmas?, a melodrama about childhood sweethearts who reunite as adults in 2009.
Spy Myung-wol controversy
In 2011, Han was cast as the titular character in Spy Myung-wol, as a North Korean agent on a mission to kidnap a top South Korean Hallyu star, who ends up falling for him. The series gained notoriety when Han failed to show up for her scheduled filming on August 14–15 and instead flew to Los Angeles on August 16; it was the first instance of a leading actor abruptly leaving in the middle of a Korean drama shoot. Her then-agency SidusHQ cited conflicts with television director Hwang In-hyuk over her hectic working conditions, and that exhaustion had compromised her judgment. Han's absence effectively halted production, and the KBS network lambasted her actions as "unilateral, irresponsible and will not be tolerated," while the drama's production company Victory Contents (then known as Victory Productions) threatened legal action. After extensive press coverage, Han returned to Korea and continued filming Spy Myung-wol on August 18. Upon arrival at Incheon International Airport, she apologized but maintained that her demands had been legitimate, stating "I want to believe that I did the right thing." Han drew harsh criticism from TV industry professionals and viewers, but some fans defended her, saying the stressful Korean drama live-shoot system was at fault.
Romantic comedy film Penny Pinchers was released two months after Spy Myung-wol finished airing. In it, Han shed her glamorous image to play an extremely frugal woman who considers love a frivolous expense and teaches an unemployed playboy the art of penny pinching.
In late 2014, she made a successful comeback in Birth of a Beauty, where Han played a warm-hearted ajumma who overcomes her husband's infidelity by undergoing a head-to-toe makeover involving plastic surgery and weight loss. This was followed with leading roles in romantic comedies Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist (2016) where she plays a fake fortune teller, and 20th Century Boy and Girl (2017).
In June 2021, Han signed with new agency High Entertainment.
On May 2, 2011, Han hit a man surnamed Do on the hip with the wing mirror of her Porsche while driving into the parking lot of her home in an apartment building in Samseong-dong. Do sustained minor injuries and Han's lawyers offered him ₩5 million in compensation, but Do claimed that she had fled the scene. Her then-agency SidusHQ denied this, saying she had apologized and checked if he was okay, but did not step out of her vehicle. After an investigation, police cleared Han of the hit-and-run allegations.
In January 2015, the FSS included Han in a list of people who were found to have violated the foreign currency-related law by failing to report their asset acquisition, such as real estate overseas, to relevant authorities. This referred to a commercial building in Koreatown, Los Angeles that Han had bought in 2011, but her then-agency KeyEast issued a statement that the omission had been a technical mistake, because Han had transferred the building's ownership to a company in which she was the major shareholder and was unaware that she should report it.
|2007||Miss Gold Digger||Shin Mi-soo|
|2009||Monsters vs. Aliens||Susan Murphy/Ginormica (voice, Korean dubbed)|||
|2011||Penny Pinchers||Gu Hong-sil|
|2003||Nonstop 4||MBC||Han Ye-seul|
|Nonstop 5||MBC||Han Ye-seul (cameo)|
|2005||That Summer's Typhoon||Han Eun-bi|
|2006||Couple or Trouble||Anna Jo / Na Sang-shil|
|2008||Tazza||SBS||Lee Nan-sook / Mi-na|
|2009||Will It Snow for Christmas?||Han Ji-wan|
|2011||Spy Myung-wol||KBS2||Han Myung-wol|
|2014||Birth of a Beauty||SBS||Sara / Sa Geum-ran|
|2016||Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist||JTBC||Go Hye-rim|
|2017||20th Century Boy and Girl||MBC||Sa Jin-jin|
|2019||Big Issue||SBS||Ji Soo-hyun|
Hosting and variety show
|2001||Midnight TV Entertainment||SBS||Host|||
|Inkigayo (Popular Music)||SBS|||
|2007||She's Olive: Han Ye-seul in L.A.||O'live||Cast|||
Music video appearances
|2004||"You Are Different"||Han Ye-seul||Track 6 on Nonstop 4 OST|
|"Say It"||Shinhwa feat. Han Ye-seul||Track 11 on Winter Story 2004–2005|
|2005||"Memory"||Han Ye-seul||Track 2 on That Summer's Typhoon OST|
|2007||"Make Me Shine"||Han Ye-seul||Track 1 on Miss Gold Digger OST|
|2009||"Love Class"||Mighty Mouth feat. Han Ye-seul||Track 2 on Love Class EP|
Awards and nominations
|2001||SBS Supermodel Contest||Juliet Award||—||Won|
|2004||6th Mnet Asian Music Awards||Best OST||"You Are Different" - Nonstop 4||Nominated|
|MBC Entertainment Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Sitcom/Comedy||Nonstop 4||Won|||
|2006||MBC Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actress||Couple or Trouble||Won|||
|Popularity Award, Actress||Won|
|Best Couple Award with Oh Ji-ho||Won|
|2007||43rd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actress (TV)||Nominated|
|Most Popular Actress (TV)||Won|||
|2008||3rd Asia Model Festival Awards||Model Star Award||—||Won|||
|44th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actress (Film)||Miss Gold Digger||Won|||
|45th Grand Bell Awards||BMW Popularity Award, Actress||Won|||
|Best New Actress||Won|||
|31st Golden Cinematography Awards||Won|||
|7th Korean Film Awards||Nominated|
|29th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best New Actress||Won|||
|4th Asian Festival of First Films||Best Actress||Nominated|
|SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Planning Drama||Tazza||Won|||
|Top 10 Stars||Won|
|2009||45th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actress (TV)||Nominated|
|2014||SBS Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special||Birth of a Beauty||Won|||
|Best Couple Award with Joo Sang-wook||Won|||
|Top 10 Stars||Won|
|2015||15th Huading Awards||Best Global Actress in a TV series||Won|||
|2016||9th Korea Drama Awards||Excellence Award, Actress||Madame Antoine||Nominated|
|2017||MBC Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Monday-Tuesday Drama||20th Century Boy and Girl||Nominated|
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- "Han Ye-seul, Sung Joon in new JTBC drama". The Korea Times. October 26, 2015.
- "Han Ye-seul and Kim Ji-seok to star in "Boy and Girl from the 20th Century"". Hancinema. July 10, 2017.
- "Han Ye-seul to star in SBS drama". Korean Film Biz Zone. December 14, 2018.
- "Han Ye-seul Excited to Try Something Different in New TV Series". The Chosun Ilbo. March 9, 2019.
- "한예슬, '10살 연하♥' 열애→소속사 계약 직접 발표..조여정과 한솥밥". OSEN. June 1, 2021.
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- "New couples emerge, others break up in 2016 celebrity dating scene". Yonhap. December 20, 2016.
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