Long before the Korean wave was even a thing, Ha Ji won was already a critically-acclaimed actress in her home country. We first got to know her when her drama, Memories Of Bali, hit local TV, shocking viewers with its melodramatic turns and unexpected ending. But it wasn't until her popular drama, Secret Garden, with Hyun Bin, aired in 2011, that she really hit her stride and became a Hallyu star famous around the world. Since then, she's gone on to star in a parade of films and dramas, winning plenty more awards along the way. Now, she's known as one of South Korea's most trusted actresses when it comes to talent and star power. Here, we list some of our fave Ha Ji Won dramas throughout the years:
1. Hwang Jini (2006)
Who else is in it: Kim Young Ae, Wang Bit Na, Kim Jae Won, Ryu Tae Joon, Jang Geun Suk
Back in South Korea, Ji Won starred in several hit dramas and films that made her a household name. Her role as the titular Hwang Jini in this particular period drama earned her the prestigious Daesang (Grand Prize) at the 2006 KBS Drama Awards. The drama is based on the real-life Jini, the most celebrated gisaeng (courtesan) in Korean history. It follows her trials and triumphs from the joy she discovers from dancing to the tangled web that arises from the men all struggling to get her attention. It was so popular it actually started a "cultural craze" around gisaengs.
Bonus: If you love Jang Geun Suk, you'll know that this is also one of his very first dramas. He won people's hearts with his portrayal of Jini's first love, Kim Eun Ho.
2. Secret Garden (2010)
Who else is in it: Hyun Bin, Yoon Sang Hyun, Kim Sa Rang
New K-drama fans might know Hyun Bin from Crash Landing On You, but the OGs will also remember him and his iconic sparkly tracksuit from Secret Garden. In this fantasy rom-com, Ji Won plays Gil Ra Im, a stunt woman who catches the eye of department store CEO Kim Joo Won (Hyun Bin). Joo Won's arrogance turns Ra Im off at first (we would also react the same way, TBH), but when they magically swap bodies one day, they both start to understand each other better. Secret Garden has plenty of memorable scenes, including the famous cappuccino foam kiss that gave rise to so many parodies. And did we mention this drama also has Lee Jong Suk in it? He plays Han Tae Sun, a gifted musician with feelings for Oska (Sang Hyun), a popular singer who also happens to be Joo Won's cousin.
3. The King 2 Hearts (2012)
Who else is in it: Lee Seung Gi, Jo Jung Suk, Yoon Je Moon, Lee Yoon Ji
Now, we might be a little biased because we love ourselves some Lee Seung Gi, but The King 2 Hearts is another one of those dramas that holds a special place in our hearts. It tells the story of an alternate South Korea where the monarchy is still alive. Crown prince Lee Jae Ha (Seung Gi) is a charismatic but troublesome prince who gets sent to joint military training with the North Korean forces in hopes that it will make him more mature. There, he meets Kim Hang Ah (Ji Won), a brilliant North Korean Special Forces officer who just happens to be an official's daughter. Sparks fly between them, but can love really conquer everything? Note: This was also the drama that turned us into Jo Jung Suk fans. He plays Eun Shi Kyung, a straitlaced royal guard who falls for Princess Lee Jae Shin (Yoon Ji). Get ready to have your hearts squeezed whenever he's on screen!
4. Empress Ki (2013)
Who else is in it: Joo Jin Mo, Ji Chang Wook, Baek Jin Hee
Ji Won always looks gorgeous no matter what, but we have to admit that she looks especially captivating every time she's in period dramas. In this one, she plays Ki Seung Nyang, a Koryeo woman who disguises herself as a man and lives as a warrior. She becomes involved with two key figures, Wang Yoo (Jin Mo), the king of Koryeo, and Ta Hwan (Chang Wook), the emperor of the Yuan dynasty. It's an epic tale (the drama is 51 eps long!) that's filled with action and drama. There's a lot of heartbreak involved, too, so prepare yourself. Ji Won's role as Empress Ki got her second Grand Prize Award, a feat for any actress, this time from the MBC Drama Awards.
5. The Time We Were Not In Love (2015)
Who else is in it: Lee Jin Wook, Yoon Kyun Sang, Choo Soo Hyun
This rom-com is both a soothing balm and a painful arrow to the heart. It tells the story of Oh Ha Na (Ji Won) and Choi Won (Jin Wook) who have been best friends for 17 years. Despite their obvious chemistry and having been each other's "ride-or-die" for so long, a romance has never blossomed between them. The drama explores the hows and whys of their confusing relationship while they navigate their own love lives. It's honestly the slowest slow-burn romance we've ever experienced in a K-drama, so if you're hoping for a more straightforward path to a happy ending, this might not be the drama for you.
6. Hospital Ship (2017)
Who else is in it: Kang Min Hyuk, Kim In Sik, Kim Kwang Kyu, Lee Han Wi
We love a good ensemble drama, and this medical romance fits the bill nicely. Ji Won ventures into new territory with Hospital Ship where she plays master surgeon Eun Jae whose medical prowess is enough for her to work at the most reputable hospitals in Seoul. Despite this, she chooses to join a small medical crew aboard a ship that services a group of islands in rural areas. Thanks to her skills, the ship also becomes a venue for performing surgery. Among the doctors she works with is Kwak Hyun (Min Hyuk), the son of the famous surgeon in charge of the hospital ship. While the patients love his gentle demeanor, what they don't know is that he's hiding his trauma behind his bright smile.
7. Chocolate (2019)
Who else is in it: Yoon Kye Sang, Jang Seung Jo, Teo Yoo, Min Jin Woong
If you enjoy your dramas with a side of food and travel, Chocolate might just be what you're looking for. This melodrama revolves around Lee Kang (Kye Sang), a neurologist, and Moon Cha Yeong (Ji Won), a chef. The two met as children on scenic Wando Island, where Kang's mom owned a seaside restaurant, and became each other's first loves. When they reunite unexpectedly as adults, it's in the face of a friend's impending death. Together, they get to know the patients at Geosung Hospice and learn a thing or two about living life to the fullest.
8. Curtain Call (2022)
Who else is in it: Kang Ha Neul, Go Doo Shim, Kwon Sang Woo, Jung Ji So, Sung Dong Il, Noh Sang Hyun
Ji Won returns to the small screen with this melodrama that just started in October. Curtain Call tells the heart-wrenching story of Geum Soon (Doo Shim), a woman forced to separate from her husband and child during the Korean war. Having escaped to South Korea by herself, she establishes Hotel Nakwon, which later becomes a successful hotel chain. As she nears her death, her only wish is to see her grandson, Jung Moon (Ha Neul), from North Korea. When her aid (Dong Il) finds out Jung Moon is a crook, he hires theater actor Jae Heon (also Ha Neul) to impersonate him instead. Jae Heon finds himself suddenly involved in the family's fight for the rights to Hotel Nakwon. He also meets Se Yeon (Ji Won), Geum Soon's granddaughter, who wants to keep Hotel Nakwon going for her grandmother's sake.
MORE K-DRAMA ROUNDUPS FEATURING YOUR FAVORITE STARS:
6 K-Dramas Starring 'Snowdrop' Actress Yoon Se Ah
6 Kim Da Mi K-Dramas And Movies That You *Really* Have To Watch