As it traveled the international film festival circuit, Han Gong-ju won several top prizes, including the Golden Star at the 2013 Marrakech International Film Festival, the Tiger Award (given to films that "give young filmmakers a voice" and "push boundaries") at the 2014 International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Jury Prize, the Critics' Prize, and the Audience Award at the 2014 Deauville Asian Film Festival.
The Rotterdam jury praised it as "a skillfully crafted and highly accomplished debut. Deviating from classicist structure, this film lures the spectator to participate in the pleasures of storytelling through an extraordinary and intricate narrative puzzle."
Han Gong-ju was released in theaters on April 17, 2014.
The movie starts with Gong Ju (Chun Woo hee) facing a crowd of disparaging adults as she tells them she did nothing wrong. The scene shifts to her teacher from her current school, Lee Nan do (Jo Dae Hee), helping her pack her luggage as she is about to be transferred to another school in a different town. As they eat lunch he tells her that it was not her fault but to wait for the results of the trial before deciding what to do next and meanwhile not to answer any phone calls. Lee manages to make her school transition as smooth as possible despite it being mid semester. He then brings Gong Ju to the convenient store owned by his mother, Mrs. Cho, for possible board in her house. Initially the mother refuses but eventually allows her to stay.