Haha was born on August 20, 1979 in Berlin, Germany and moved to Seoul, South Korea when he was an infant.  His parents are both Korean and he has an older sister, Ha Juri (Hangul: ???) who is a pianist. Haha graduated from Daejin University, where he obtained a Masters degree in Drama and Fine Arts.  He later became a trainee for Seoul Records and debuted as a singer and rapper in 2001 with boy band, Zikiri. Despite excessive promotion, Zikiri failed to get popular and was quickly disbanded.
In 2002, Haha became a co-host for the show, What’s Up YO! longside MC Mong and Jerome To. The three later became known as the “What’s Up Trio” because of their strong friendship on-screen.  Haha later joined the main cast of the third season of Nonstop, a sitcom about a group of college students and their friends and family. He remained part of the cast up until 2003 which managed to gain him recognition for his acting and comedy skills.  Haha later became the producer and presenter for his own radio show with MC Mong, known as Haha and Mong’s Journey in 2004 for SBS Power FM.
After leaving Nonstop, Haha spent two years alongside singer, Taw, preparing and recording his debut album titled, “The Beautiful Rhyme Diary”. The album was released on February 18, 2005 alongside his debut single, “Love Song” but failed to chart or garner much popularity.  He eventually guested on X-man in May 22nd 2005 and immediately exploded in popularity for his imitations of close friend, Kim Jong-kook. His sudden popularity spike allowed him to become a regular guest for X-man, arguably the biggest variety show of that time.
In December 2005, Haha became a member of the game show, Infinite Challenge. He also returned as a guest for the sixth and final season of Nonstop in 2006.  In 2007, Haha released his second single, “You’re My Destiny” which took a samples from the song “Stand By Me” by Ben E. King. The single managed to reach number one on the Gaon Chart and he performed on his Comeback Stage on Music Bank in November.  Haha later joined the show, Happy Shares Company as a co-host until February 2008.