Han was first discovered in a teenage beauty pageant in 2003. She began her acting career in the sitcom Nonstop 5 and the gangster comedy My Boss, My Teacher. Han raised her profile by being cast in Spring Waltz, the fourth and final installment of TV director Yoon Suk-ho's Season Dramas series, following Autumn in My Heart, Winter Sonata and Summer Scent. Though it received low ratings in Korea, Spring Waltz was exported to and aired in other Asian countries, including Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines.
In 2006 director Lee Yoon-ki cast the newbie in the starring role in his low-budget indie Ad-lib Night, which follows a young woman who rediscovers herself through an eerie overnight encounter with strangers. Han followed that with two highly successful TV projects - KBS daily drama Like Land and Sky in 2007 and SBS masked-adventurer series Iljimae in 2008. She made another independent film, Ride Away, which debuted at the 2008 Jeonju International Film Festival.
Han filmed the collaborative Korean-Japanese telecinema production Heaven's Postman in 2008, which also featured popstar Kim Jaejoong from TVXQ. After several postponements, the telecinema was released in late 2009.
In 2009 her Cinderella drama Brilliant Legacy (co-starring Lee Seung Gi) became a massive hit, reaching a peak viewership rating of 47.1%. Since the drama's conclusion, Han has experienced a sharp rise in endorsement deals and media requests for interviews.
Following her success on Brilliant Legacy, Han was slated to assume the lead female role in the drama Chuno. However, she withdrew from the drama prior to production allegedly due to issues relating to her management and salary.
In September 2009 Han wrapped up her starring role in the musical drama Soul Special, which also stars K.Will in his acting debut. The drama aired in twelve five-minute segments on various online portals, with KBS airing the entire drama in four parts.
Her most recent role was as the titular character in Dong Yi, MBC's 49th Anniversary Project. Han won several acting awards for her portrayal as Choi Suk Bin.
Han will star opposite So Ji-sub in the melodrama Only You. So plays a former boxer with a rough personality who makes a living by delivering water and managing a parking lot while Han is a woman who may be going blind but is strong in spirit. The film, which is helmed by critically acclaimed director Song Il-gon is set to premiere around late half of this year.
Han Hyo-joo attends Dongguk University, where she majors in the theatre and film department. Her hobbies include singing and writing and her talents are playing the piano, telling fairy tales, writing, running and fencing. Han has a younger brother.