Chinese name 韓庚 (Traditional)
Chinese name 韩庚 (Simplified)
Pinyin Hán Gēng (Mandarin)
Jyutping Hon4 Gang1 (Cantonese)
Birth name ( Han Geng )
( February 9, 1984 Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang, China )
Other name(s) 한경 (Hankyung)
Occupation ( Singer, dancer, actor, model )
Genre ( Pop, dance, R&B,Folk dance )
Instrument ( Piano )
Voice type ( Tenor )
Label ( SM Entertainment )
Years active ( 2005–present )
Associated acts ( SM Town, Super Junior, Super Junior-M )
Han Geng or Hankyung (born February 9, 1984), is a Chinese pop singer and actor active in South Korea. A member of the Korean boy band Super Junior, he is also the leader of its subgroup, Super Junior-M. Being one of the four lead dancers of Super Junior, he is also one of the two members in the group who frequently performs Chinese martial arts in Super Junior’s dance routines the other being Sungmin. Han is well-known for his dancing, being particularly skillful in Chinese traditional dances from the 56 Chinese ethnic groups.[a] As a member of a Korean music group, he is an important contributor to the Korean wave in China. One of the first and more influential Chinese artist in Korea, Han was elected as a torch bearer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics for his contribution to the cultural changes between China and South Korea.
He has recently requested the courts to terminate his contract with SM Entertainment, as he feels that it is unlawful and overly restrictive.
Han Geng, an ethnic Nanai from Northeast China, was born in Mudanjiang, Heilongjiang, China. At the age of 13, he was accepted into Central University for Nationalities and left Mudanjiang for Beijing to perfect his craft in dance. In December 2001, Han’s friend notified him of a talent scouting audition that was going to be held in Beijing, and his friend encouraged Han to sign up with him. Although hesitant at first, Han agreed to audition with his friend. Together they signed up for the H.O.T. CHINA Audition Casting, a casting audition that was hosted by Korean talent agency and label SM Entertainment. The competition rate was 3000 to 1, and Han had no hopes of getting selected after auditions ended.
After the audition, Han began to work briefly as a cameo actor in short low-budget Chinese films to earn a salary before entering college. In late August 2002, Han was notified that he had been accepted into SM Entertainment. After Han’s graduation at the Central University for Nationalities, he was sent to South Korea and received private lessons in singing, dancing, and acting, as well as learning the Korean language. Mid 2003, Han moved into dormitories and lived with other trainees who were under the same label. With the other trainees, he was enrolled in training classes. He started out as a Class C dancer (the lowest class for dancing), but later on he went straight to Class A, skipping Class B. At that time, there were only 4 people in Class A, including Han Geng.
See also: Super Junior’s musical career
On February 6, 2005, Han was officially announced to be part of one of South Korea’s all-boy rotational musical groups, Super Junior, as a member of its first generation, Super Junior 05. Being the first group with a Chinese and foreign member to formally debut in South Korea, the media closely followed the group. Three months later after the announcement, Han made his first media appearance as a runway model in a Fashion Show organized by Bum Suk.
With a total of twelve members, Super Junior 05 officially debuted on November 6, 2005 on SBS’s music program Popular Songs, performing their first single, “TWINS (Knock Out)”. Their debut performance attracted over 500 fans and also garnered oversea viewers from both China and Japan. A full studio album was released a month later, which debuted at #3 on the monthly MIAK K-pop album charts. In March 2006, SM Entertainment began to recruit new members for the next Super Junior generation. However, plans changed when the company added in a thirteenth member, Kyuhyun, and the company declared a halt in forming future Super Junior generations. The group dropped the suffix “05” and became officially credited as Super Junior. The re-polished group hit big after they released their first CD single “U” the following summer, which became Super Junior’s most successful single in the music charts until the release of “Sorry, Sorry” in March 2009.
Han was one of the few members of Super Junior who actively appears on variety shows, such as being a regular guest in Love Letter and Star Golden Bell. Being active in variety shows, his popularity within Super Junior grew and Han became popular overseas. Aside South Korea, Han is also well-known in China, where he has made guest appearances in over three different Chinese variety shows, being one of the first K-pop idols to appear in them. Han became a national celebrity in China with the debut of Super Junior’s third subgroup Super Junior-M on April 8, 2008 in China. The subgroup released their first Chinese-language studio album, Me on May 2, 2008. The album debuted on Taiwan’s G-music combo charts as #2 and #1 on many of China’s and Thailand’s music charts.
Han made a cameo appearance with band-mate Eunhyuk as a friend of Heechul in an episode of the MBC drama Rainbow Romance early 2006. In August 2006, Han played the role of a police officer in Zhang Liyin’s debut music video “Timeless”, starring alongside Lee Yeon-hee and band-mate Siwon. The two-part music video was separately released in September 2006. The music video was ranked #1 for a full four weeks on Melon’s Video Chart. In November 2007, Han starred as the lead role in Zhang’s debut Chinese music video, “I Will”, and “The Left Shore of Happiness” alongside Lee and Siwon. Both music videos were released in February 2008.
Han’s first big-scale film was Attack on the Pin-Up Boys, an SM Pictures production that starred all Super Junior members except Kyuhyun. He played the role of a popular basketball player who later got attacked by a mysterious force. Despite positive critical ratings, that film did not do well in the box-office. However, all four versions of the film’s DVD were sold out and broke chart records.
Late 2008, Han filmed the CCTV mini drama called Stage of Youth in China. He plays Xia Lei, a young man who has to go through numerous obstacles and challenges in order to achieve his dream to become the new generation’s dancing star. The 12-episode drama was a Chinese New Year Special and also a tribute to the Beijing Olympics 2008. It aired on CCTV-Children (少儿频道) from January 19–31, 2009.
2008 Beijing Olympics torch bearer
On March 20, 2008, Han was announced to be one of the torch bearers for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the first boy-band member to be chosen in history. Being active in a foreign country, Han has simultaneously promoted Chinese culture to Korea, earning him a spot as torch bearer. His torch relay was in the Beijing route on August 7, 2008. He was runner number 240. Not only was he a torch bearer, he’d also sung the Beijing Olympic theme song “Beijing Welcomes You (北京欢迎你)”.
Before his debut, Han entered Korea with a vacation visa and had to return to China every three months for a new one. After debuting in 2005, his company obtained an E-6 (Entertainment Industry) passport, allowing him to stay for longer periods. However, the passport strictly limited his promotional activities and appearances in various broadcasting corporations in Korea. By law, a foreigner in Korea is only permitted to perform on three television stations. Han was allowed to perform on KBS and SBS, as stated by Lee Soo Man during a Harvard Korean Wave conference in early 2007. Fellow labelmate, Zhang Liyin, also experienced the same issue. Initially, the company did not know of the procedures, and was fined because of it. Before Han signed contracts with KBS and SBS, he performed on stage with a mask and a hat to hide his face on screen. Many thought Han was a back-up dancer until three months later when a band mate (Heechul) finally revealed him to the media by publicly taking off his mask.
Despite visa restrictions, Han performed with the rest of Super Junior at the 2007 M.NET/KM Music Festival and the 2007 Golden Disk Awards. Both award ceremonies air on channels that Han was restricted to perform on. With the debut of more foreign artists in Korea, the Korean government lifted its restriction on foreign performers on August 1, 2008.
Lawsuit with SM Entertainment
News source in China released information in December 2009 that Han filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment (SME) for unfair activity-scheduling. Han is said to have developed gastritis and kidney illness due to his busy schedule assigned by SME and is seeking termination for his exclusive contract with the company. With a legal representative, the lawsuit was filed on December 21, 2009 with the Seoul District Court.
According to the litigation, it has been two years since Han had rested from his continuous activities SME has designated to him and it was rejected every single time Han requested to return to China for rest. Due to the contract obligation and heavy penalties, Han is not to skip any activity even during bad health. It was revealed later on that the non-stopping schedule is not the only unfair element presented in the contract; other problems deemed unsuitable include: that the contract was in SME’s favor, a 13-year exclusive contract is too long, the real amount of Han’s responsibilities and rights are different from those of the contract, real profit earned by Super Junior members is too low, etc.
SM Entertainment stated that for the sake of Han and Super Junior, they will be in talks to resolve the dispute.
On 9th of March 2010, one month after Han Geng’s birthday, he appeared in an interview for the first time. In the interview, he talked about his future plans after leaving SM Entertainment and claimed that he did not regret the path that he has chosen.