[Actor Spotlight] Han Ji-min
This week it’s Han Ji-min’s turn in the spotlight. She’s just closed the book on MBC’s One Spring Night opposite Jung Hae-in, right on the heels of another successful drama, JTBC’s The Light in Your Eyes.
Born in 1982 in Seoul, South Korea, Han Ji-min had an early start to her career when she was still in high school. She first appeared in commercials, with not much intention of becoming an actor — that is, until she played one in the 2003 drama All In. Even since then, she’s been working steadily (and some might say tirelessly), and has often challenged herself with diverse roles and genres. Han Ji-min shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s great to see her career boom in the last few years.
Here are some dramaland moments from Han Ji-min, followed by her full filmography.
Hyde, Jekyll, and Me (2015)
Hyde, Jekyll, Me. Hyun Bin, Han Ji-min, Sung Joon, Lee Won-geun. That’s a lot of names and pretty faces for a drama that was pretty Grade B. In Hyde, Jekyll, and Me, Han Ji-min starred as a circus troupe heroine, opposite not one, but two Hyun Bins. While this sounds like a pretty decent problem to have, in the drama it turned out to be a major source of conflict, considering Hyun Bin had two personalities: the icy chaebol, and his warm and wonderful counterpart “Robin.” In the end the drama couldn’t really manage everything it wanted to do, and was a pretty big waste of talent… but can anyone say coat envy?
The Light in Your Eyes (2019)
I decided to cover The Light in Your Eyes here not because I’ve watched it, but because I want to watch it so very much. I guess it was because I interested and kept my ears peeled for people’s reactions that I accidentally learned (A.K.A. spoiled) the drama’s entire reveal. However, it actually opens up some interesting questions about whether a story still works when you know what it’s going to do, rather than waiting for it all to unfold. Han Ji-min and Nam Joo-hyuk were in the lead here, and it’s their story we hear throughout the drama. I have a soft spot for Nam Joo-hyuk’s dopey cuteness, and I’ve heard Han Ji-min was great here, but what I’m really looking forward to the most is the halmae character played by Kim Hye-ja.
One Spring Night (2019)
It’s no secret I’m absolutely taken with this drama, from the subtle script to the honest performances. Heck, I even like the dimness and shadows in most of the scenes, too. Han Ji-min joined this drama right after wrapping up The Light in Your Eyes, and the hairdo might be similar, but the tone of the dramas couldn’t be more different. In One Spring Night, Han Ji-min plays a librarian who finds herself at a crossroads in her relationship with her long-term boyfriend (Kim Joon-han) and the single father she meets (Jung Hae-in). It’s easy for me to shout from my couch that her boyfriend is a jerkface and Jung Hae-in’s character is magical, but I appreciate how this drama (and the team behind it) are always careful to have people act like people. They’re conflicted, torn, they make decisions out of ego as much as they do out of love, they seek their own happiness often before those around them — in short, they’re perfectly complicated humans, and it makes for such a rich story. This is one drama where I’m not so much tied to the end result (happily ever after couple) as much as I am tied to the whole journey our characters are on.
Han Ji-min’s full filmography:
- All In (2003) [Drama]
This was the role that made Han Ji-min consider becoming a serious actress. Incidentally, she played the teenage version of Song Hye-gyo’s character which is odd on one hand because they’re nearly the same age, and actually quite funny because I’ve been seeing some similarities in their looks for the first time ever while watching One Spring Night. This drama was so huge, it hit 47% ratings at the end. Ji Sung and Lee Byung-heon also stared. Okay, top of the summer classics to-be-watched list.
- Good Person (2003) [Drama]
Han Ji-min had a small role in this daily drama about a woman (Woo Hee-jin) who was suddenly widowed.
- Dae Jang Geum (2003) [Drama]
Also known as Jewel in the Palace, this drama was a huge hit and received the 10th highest ratings in K-drama history. Han Ji-min had a small role, and Lee Young-ae and Ji Jin-hee led.
- Déjà vu and Memory (2004) [Drama]
Han Ji-min played in these two short dramas out of KBS’s Drama City series.
- Resurrection (2004) [Drama]
Also known as Rebirth, this career-making drama starred Han Ji-min and Uhm Tae-woong. The drama’s rating suffered (it was airing in direction competition to the hugely successful My Name Is Kim Sam-soon), but got a good bit of acclaim and when later re-aired, pretty big ratings as well. Anyway, it’s a melo-romance-thriller where the hero pretends to be his twin brother. Maybe The Secret Life of My Secretary psyched me up for more drama cosplay, but now I really want to watch this one too.
- Blue Swallow (2005) [Film]
Han Ji-min supported Jang Jin-young in this film about one of the first female Korean pilots in history.
- Wolf (2006) [Drama]
This drama starred Eric and Han Ji-Min, but the two were involved in a pretty bad on-set car accident and the drama was eventually pulled.
- Great Expectations (2006) [Drama]
Gangster, or kindergarten teacher? In this rom-com, Kim Jae-won played both. Han Ji-min and Kim Ji-hoon also starred.
- Super Rookie Ranger (2006) [Drama]
Eric and Han Ji-Min reunited as co-stars after their accident and injuries from Wolf, this time in this drama about the top-secret Korea Secret Agency.
- The Cut (2007) [Film]
Han Ji-min starred with Ohn Joo-wan in this horror/mystery film also known as Cadaver and/or Anatomy Class, which says it all for me. And by all I mean that’s me running in the other direction.
- Scandal in Gyeongseong (2007) [Drama]
This drama about romance in 1930s old Seoul starred Kang Ji-hwan, Han Ji-min, Ryu Jin and Han Go-eun.
- Yi San (2007) [Drama]
This popular, epic sageuk (76 episodes!) starred Han Ji-min and Lee Seo-jin.
- Cain and Abel (2009) [Drama]
This drama has been on my list for so long now — So Ji-sub and Shin Hyun-joon warred it out as brothers, and I bet my bottom dollar Han Ji-min had something to do with it too.
- Padam Padam (2011) [Drama]
I’m pretty sure I watched this drama because of Kim Bum (sorry not sorry), but this was a thoughtful (though not exactly satisfying) drama written by Noh Hee-kyung, and starred Jung Woo-sung and Han Ji-min.
- Detective K: Secret of the Virtuous Widow (2011) [Film]
Han Ji-min put on her best femme fatale and starred with Kim Myung-Min in the first of the historical-comedy Detective K series.
- Rooftop Prince (2012) [Drama]
In this time-slip drama, a Joseon-era crown prince and his retainers found themselves in modern-day Seoul. Or, to be more precise, in Han Ji-min’s rooftop apartment.
- The Plan Man (2014) [Film]
Jung Jae-young and Han Ji-min starred in this rom-com about a man with some serious OCD and a musical TV talent show.
- King’s Wrath (2014) [Film]
Quite the cast in this sageuk film about the assassination attempt on King Jeongjo — Hyun Bin, Jung Jae-young, Jo Jung-seok, and Han Ji-min.
- Salut d’Amour (2015) [Film]
Warm, ensemble drama about an elderly romance.
- Hyde, Jekyll, Me (2015) [Drama]
A sad flop of what could have been a delicious stack of pancakes (see above).
- Dramaworld (2016) [Drama]
Han Ji-min appeared as herself in Viki’s homage drama.
- Jealousy Incarnate (2016) [Drama/Cameo]
Han Ji-min had a fun cameo in this drama where she played Jo Jong-suk’s blind date.
- The Age of Shadows (2016) [Film]
Gong Yoo, Song Kang-ho, and Han Ji-min starred in this period action thriller.
- Two Rays of Light (2017) [Film]
This film brought Han Ji-min and Park Hyung-shik together as the leads. Han Ji-min got a lot of attention for her portrayal of a blind therapist who meets a pianist.
- Keys to the Heart (2018) [Film/Guest appearance]
Lee Byung-heon and Park Jung-min starred in this film about two very different brothers that reconnect.
- Herstory (2018) [Film/Cameo]
Han Ji-min cameoed in this film about the trials surrounding the WWII comfort women.
- Miss Baek (2018) [Film]
Han Ji-min played the title character in this film, an ex-convict who struggled to move on from her past. The film was responsible for a big boom in her career, and earned her a Blue Dragon Film Award, and a Baeksang for Best Actress.
- Sovereign Default (2018) [Film/Cameo]
Another cameo, this time in this Kim Hye-soo and Yoo Ah-in film about the IMF and the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
- Familiar Wife (2018) [Drama]
Another good, interesting-sounding drama that I missed. This fantasy rom-com starred Ji Sung and Han Ji-min and I’m getting flavors of Go Back Spouses.
- The Light in Your Eyes (2019) [Drama]
On the to-be-watched list, spoilers notwithstanding (see above).
- One Spring Night (2019) [Drama]
I’ve waited till the end to spring the truth: I actually wasn’t a very big fan of Han Ji-min, but this is the drama that converted me (see above).
- One Spring Night: Episodes 1-2
- First look at Han Ji-min and Jung Hae-in for MBC melo Spring Night
- The Light in Your Eyes: Episodes 1-10
- Familiar Wife: Episode 1
- Ji Sung, Han Ji-min team up with Weightlifting Fairy writer for tvN
- Han Ji-min considers film Miss Baek as comeback project
- Han Ji-min, Shin Sung-rok join occupation-era blockbuster
- Hyde, Jekyll, Me: Episode 1