Han Ye-seul

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Han Ye-seul
201024 한예슬.jpg
Han in October 2020
Leslie Kim

(1981-09-18) September 18, 1981 (age 41)
NationalitySouth Korean
Years active2001–present
AgentHigh Entertainment
Korean name
Revised RomanizationHan Ye-seul
McCune–ReischauerHan Yesŭl

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).

Early life[edit]

Leslie Kim was born and raised in Los Angeles, California.[1] She attended Cerritos High School and graduated from Cerritos College with an associate degree in Computer Graphics.[2] She is fluent in both English and Korean.[1][3]


Acting debut[edit]

She began her modeling career in South Korea after winning the SBS Supermodel Contest in 2001.[4] Under the stage name Han Ye-seul, she made her acting debut in the popular sitcom Nonstop 4 in 2003.[5] 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.[6] Her performances in Forbidden Love (2004) and That Summer's Typhoon (2005) received poor reviews,[7][8] with critics dismissing her as primarily a commercial model and not a real actress.[9]


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.[1][10]

She further embraced the screwball comedy genre with her first film Miss Gold Digger (2007).[11] 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.[12][13][14][15][16]

Han Ye-seul in 2008.

Han next starred in Tazza (2008), a TV adaptation of Huh Young-man's manhwa of the same name about gamblers and card sharks.[17] 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.[18][19]

Spy Myung-wol controversy[edit]

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.[20][21][22] 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.[23] Her then-agency SidusHQ cited conflicts with television director Hwang In-hyuk over her hectic working conditions, and that exhaustion had compromised her judgment.[24][25] 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.[25][26] After extensive press coverage, Han returned to Korea and continued filming Spy Myung-wol on August 18.[27] 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."[28] 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.[23][29]

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.[30][31]


After the Spy Myung-wol fiasco, public backlash forced Han to go on a three-year hiatus from acting.[32][33][34]

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.[35][36][37] This was followed with leading roles in romantic comedies Madame Antoine: The Love Therapist (2016) where she plays a fake fortune teller,[38] and 20th Century Boy and Girl (2017).[39]

In 2019, Han starred in SBS drama Big Issue, playing a paparazzi journalist who chases after celebrity scandals.[40][41]

In June 2021, Han signed with new agency High Entertainment.[42]

Personal life[edit]

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.[43] Her then-agency SidusHQ denied this, saying she had apologized and checked if he was okay, but did not step out of her vehicle.[44] After an investigation, police cleared Han of the hit-and-run allegations.[45][46]

Han began dating YG Entertainment record producer Teddy Park in May 2013.[37][47][48] The two were reported to have broken up on October 24, 2016.[49]

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.[50] 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.[51]

On May 13, 2021 Han revealed through an update from her Instagram that she is currently dating theatrical actor Ryu Sung-jae, who is 10 years younger than her.[52][53]



Year Title Role Ref.
2007 Miss Gold Digger Shin Mi-soo
2009 Monsters vs. Aliens Susan Murphy/Ginormica (voice, Korean dubbed) [54]
2011 Penny Pinchers Gu Hong-sil

Television series[edit]

Year Title Network Role Ref.
2003 Nonstop 4 MBC Han Ye-seul
2004 Forbidden Love KBS2 Chae-yi
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[edit]

Year Title Network Role Notes Ref.
2001 Midnight TV Entertainment SBS Host [55]
2004–2005 Section TV MBC [56]
Inkigayo (Popular Music) SBS [57]
2007 She's Olive: Han Ye-seul in L.A. O'live Cast [58]

Music video appearances[edit]

Year Song Title Artist
2003 "With Me" Wheesung
2010 "Love Song"[59] Rain


Year Title Artist Notes
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[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
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 [60]
2006 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress Couple or Trouble Won [61]
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 [62]
2008 3rd Asia Model Festival Awards Model Star Award Won [63]
44th Baeksang Arts Awards Best New Actress (Film) Miss Gold Digger Won [64]
45th Grand Bell Awards BMW Popularity Award, Actress Won [65]
Best New Actress Won [14]
31st Golden Cinematography Awards Won [66]
7th Korean Film Awards Nominated
29th Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actress Won [15]
4th Asian Festival of First Films Best Actress Nominated
SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Special Planning Drama Tazza Won [67]
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 [68]
Best Couple Award with Joo Sang-wook Won [69]
Top 10 Stars Won
2015 15th Huading Awards Best Global Actress in a TV series Won [70]
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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