Fresh Faces

Han Ji-hye

Actually born as Lee Ji-hye, Korean actress Han Ji-hye opted to use this stage name upon learning that her real name would cause confusion among fans since an older actress, Lena Lee, also has the same name.

Ms. Han debuted as a model, then started acting in supporting roles in TV dramas such as "Summer Scent." She landed her first leading role in "Sweet 18." The next couple of years saw her starring in low-rating dramas, but her 2007 daily drama "Likeable or Not" became very popular, topping the ratings chart during its run and recording the highest rating for a daily drama since 2000. She then displayed newfound maturity and great improvement in her acting in the 2008 epic drama "East of Eden."

In 2008, Ms. Han along with Leon Jay Williams sang the Korean and Chinese versions of the Olympic theme song "Friends." She was brought to the project via a proposal from the Chinese Olympic committee to sing the official theme of the Beijing National Aquatics Centre at the Beijing Olympics. Less than a year later, she again recorded a digital single, an upbeat electro-pop song "Luv Luv."

After studying shoemaking and design in Florence, Italy, she collaborated with existing shoe brand Jinny Kim to design and produce her own line, called "H by Jinny Kim." This was documented on "Han Ji-hye: Shoes! My Dream!" which aired on cable channel O'live TV. The Fall/Winter 2009 collection were sold in major department stores in Seoul and the surrounding metro areas, as well as in a well-known department store in Singapore and various online shopping malls.

Ms. Han then published "My Fair Lady," a collection of autobiographical lifestyle essays. The volume focused on her hobbies and daily life rather than on her onscreen work and contained writings about her experiences as a twenty-something single woman, as well as her reflections on her life. It also touched on the various projects she has undertaken such as designing shoes, studying tea ceremony, learning about ceramics, DIY furniture making, and fabric art.

Director Lee Joon-ik casted Ms. Han in his 2010 period action film "Blades of Blood" without auditioning her — not for her talents, but for her Asian-looking eyes. After starring in her first historical series in 2011's "The Duo," she played a woman who helps a young man achieve his dreams in the single-episode drama "Pianist," and a visually impaired teacher in the two-part "Chuseok" special "The Great Gift."

Ms. Han played the protagonist in the 2012 drama "May Queen," the success story of a woman in the shipbuilding industry during Korea’s modernization. In 2013, she portrayed dual roles in "Pots of Gold" (also known as I Summon You, Gold! or Gold, Appear!), a family comedy that explores money, love and marriage.

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