Han Ye-ri began her acting career in 2005 by appearing in the short film The Apple. She won Special Jury Prizes for Acting at the 2008 and 2010 Mise-en-scène Short Film Festival for the movies Giraffe & Africa and Be With Me, respectively. In 2012, she starred in the sports drama film As One, where she played the real-life character of North Korean table tennis athlete Yu Sun-bok. Her convincing North Korean accent in the movie won her the Best New Actress trophy at the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards. In 2014 and 2015, she collected Best Supporting Actress nominations for the film Haemoo. The movie was chosen as South Korea’s entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards and the 87th Academy Awards. In 2016, she headlined the indie film Worst Woman, which earned her several Best Actress nominations. In 2020, Han Ye-ri made her Hollywood debut via the American drama film Minari, which scored five nominations and one win at the 93rd Academy Awards. It also took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film for 2020.

Aside from acting in movies, Han Ye-ri also starred in several television dramas such as the SBS legal series Switch, in which she was nominated for a Top Excellence Award at the 2018 SBS Drama Awards. In 2019, she won an Excellence Award for her performance in the sageuk drama Nokdu Flower.

Han Ye-ri majored in traditional dance at the Korea National University of Arts.