Childhood & Early Life
Kim Hee-sun was born on June 11, 1976, in Seoul, South Korea, in the family of Park Bok-soon and Kim Hong-geun. She is also known as Kim Hee-seon.
In 1992, while attending middle school, Kim took part and won the Fair Face Beauty Contest. This paved the way to modelling that saw her feature in several teen magazines.
As a high school sophomore, she featured in a commercial for Lotte Samkang's crab chips in 1993. This exposure then helped her make debut as an actress that year with the SBS aired TV series ‘Dinosaur Teacher’. She also appeared as the host of the music show ‘Live TV Music 20’ that year along with Bae Chul-su.
Kim later attended Chung-Ang University and majored in Drama.
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Following ‘Dinosaur Teacher’, Kim continued to feature in other TV series and eventually bolstered her career garnering immense popularity during the mid-to-late 1990s by starring in leading roles in back-to-back Korean dramas. These included ‘Men of the Bath House’ (1995), ‘Wedding Dress’ (1997), ‘Propose’ (1997), ‘Mister Q’ (1998), ‘Forever Yours’ (1998), ‘Sunflower’ (1998) and ‘Tomato’ (1999).
Her brilliant portrayal in these series earned her several awards. Her portrayal of Han Hye-won in the hit TV series ‘Mister Q’ earned her the prestigious Grand Prize (Daesang) award at the SBS Drama Awards in 1998. She became the youngest recipient to bag the award.
The commercially successful 2000 South Korean martial arts film ‘Bichunmoo’ featured her in the lead role of Sullie. It was the most expensive Korean film at that time. Shot in China, the film faced criticism for featuring Kim.
Nevertheless ‘Bichunmoo’ fetched her both national and international exposure apart from earning her Popular Star Award at the 21st Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2000. Her successful TV career added with the success of this film helped her attain the spot as one of the Korean Wave stars in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and all through Southeast Asia.
Moving on, she played the role of successful animator Wa-ni in the 2001 film ‘Wanee & Junah’. Although the film flopped at box office, Kim’s performance was praised by critics and she won Popular Star Award at the 22nd Blue Dragon Film Awards in 2001 and Most Popular Actress (Film) award at the 38th Baeksang Arts Awards in 2002.
Her next few projects, however, failed to boost her career as the film ‘A Man Who Went to Mars’ (2003) failed to make an impact at box office and television series ‘My Fair Lady’ (2003) and ‘Sad Love Story’ (2005) also garnered low ratings.
She then got the opportunity to work with world famous Hong Kong martial artist, actor and filmmaker, Jackie Chan, in the Hong Kong martial arts-fantasy-adventure film ‘The Myth’. She learned to speak Mandarin for the film that released on May 11, 2005 and became a commercial success grossing $120 million worldwide.
Her career in South Korea continued to face a downturn with her next TV series ‘Smile Again’ (2006) tried hard to garner impressive rating during its run.
Following her marriage in 2007, Kim took a few years break from acting to concentrate on her married life and subsequent motherhood. During such time she featured in magazines. She also came up with a book titled ‘Kim Hee-sun's Happy Mom Project’ in 2009 that was related to childcare and ways of shedding weight post-pregnancy.
After featuring in the minor role of Pang Fei in the 2011 released Chinese epic film ‘The Warring States’, she made her official comeback to the acting scene with South Korean fantasy, historical fusion, romance, medical drama ‘Faith’. The series aired on SBS from August 13, 2012, to October 30, 2012.
In ‘Faith’, Kim essayed the role of Yoo Eun-soo, a modern-day plastic surgeon who is abducted and time-travelled 700 years back to the Goryeo period. The role fetched her couple of awards including Top Excellence Award, Actress at the 20th Korean Culture and Entertainment Awards in 2012.
In 2013, she appeared as the host of the SBS aired South Korean talk show ‘Hwasin – Controller of the Heart’. In the ensuing years she featured as guest in many other variety shows.
The weekend family melodrama ‘Wonderful Days’ (2014) earned her Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Serial Drama at the 3rd APAN Star Awards in 2014 for her performance as Cha Hae-won.
She then played the titular character of Jo Kang-ja in the South Korean family drama teen series ‘Angry Mom’ that aired on MBC from March 18, 2015 to May 7, 2015. Her remarkable performance in it not only earned her kudos from critics but also Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries at the 4th APAN Star Awards and Top 10 Stars awards at MBC Drama Awards in 2015.
Other notable TV series of Kim includes Chinese fantasy television drama ‘Ice Fantasy’ (2016) and South Korean drama mystery thriller ‘Woman of Dignity’ (2017) that is counted among the highest rated Korean dramas in the history of cable television.
Since May 22, 2017, she along with Kang Ho-dong and Jung Yong-hwa, appears as cast members of the South Korean reality show ‘Island Trio’ that airs on O'live and tvN every Monday at 9.30pm KST.