Childhood & Early Life
Kim Ok-bin was born in Gwangyan, South Korea on December 29, 1986 in a very humble family. Her family wasn’t one of the richest ones in the area, and often struggled with finances. Kim grew up as the eldest one of the three siblings and both her younger sisters looked up to her.
In order to cope up with dire circumstances, Kim looked for an outing and trained in martial arts to be mentally strong enough to deal with her troubles. She got herself trained in taekwondo, muay thai, boxing and Hapkido.
During her middle school days, she developed a flair for acting, and paired with her stunningly good looks, she was a popular figure during her middle school and high school years.
Due to unwanted circumstances, she had to drop out of the school. According to the reports, she did it in order to provide her sisters better opportunities to study and grow while Kim opted for self studies.
She had a recorded IQ of over 140, which helped her greatly in designing her own education and when her financial condition got better, she enrolled at the Kyung Hee University for further studies.
During her late teenage years, she participated in an online beauty competition hosted by web company Naver. It turned out to be a turning point in her life. She was noticed by talent agencies, and auditioned for a role in the film ‘Voice’.
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She was selected for the horror film ‘Voice’. She was one of the three new actresses chosen for the role, and hit a home run with her debut film itself. In the film, Kim played the role of a wandering soul. She received several award nominations for her acting in the film.
Still a teenager, she started getting offers of mature roles owing to the success of her first film.
Starting her TV career with ‘Hanoi Bride’ in 2004, she also did a music video in the same year for Lee Seung-chung’s song ‘A Cold Heart’. Both of these stints provided her further exposure.
In the 2006 film ‘Dasepo Naughty Girls’, she played the role of a young girl who had to resort to prostitution in order to support her family. The director of the film felt that Kim was one of the most matured actresses he ever worked with or auditioned. The film was filled with explicit sex scenes, but considering the gravitas of the role she was being offered, Kim did it and received a lot of appreciation.
In 2006, she was selected to feature in the drama ‘Hello God’, but while shooting for the role, she developed self-doubts and as the shooting schedule was very tight, she got only two-hours of sleep every day. As a result of this she was reported to have collapsed on the sets.
Later in 2006, she had to learn break dance for her next role in the series ‘Over the Rainbow’. She played the character with panache and had a major role in the success of the series.
In late 2008, director Park Chan-wook signed Kim for his next venture titled ‘Thirst’. Kim played the role of an object of fascination for a vampire and had to do some intense sex scenes, for which she was initially uncomfortable.
The film made waves across the film festivals and ended up winning the Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and Kim won the Best Actress Award at the Sitges Film Festival. At the local box office as well, the film registered a mega success and eventually became one of the biggest hits of the year.
Kim then surprised her fans with signing a low budget film titled ‘Actresses’, where she played herself along with a few other South Korean actresses. The film opened to critical and commercial success in December 2009.
After a break from the big screen for two years, Kim made a comeback with the 2011 war drama film ‘The Front Line’. She was appreciated for playing the role of a North Korean sniper in the film which revolved around the Korean War.
For the 2012 comedy film ‘Over my Dead Body’, Kim exhibited her extreme perfectionism by dying her hair all pink for the role. The film was a major box office success and was followed by the science fiction thriller titled ’11 A.M.’ in 2013.
After a very long hiatus of seven years, she made a comeback to the television with the historical fiction series ‘Blade and the Petal’, where she played the leading role as princess So-hee. The drama was a success, and was subsequently telecast on demand in many other neighbouring markets.
In 2014, Kim received an excellence award at the APAN Star Awards for her leading role in the series ‘Yoo-na’s Street’ and received a nomination at the Baeksang Arts Awards for the same.
In 2015, she appeared as the leading lady in the courtroom drama film ‘Minority Opinion’, which was adapted from a novel of the same name.
In 2017, she appeared in the action thriller film ‘The Villainess’, where she played a highly skilled assassin with a dark past. The film opened in the Cannes Film Festival and for her role, Kim was nominated for Buil Film Awards, Grand Bell Awards and the Seoul Awards for her amazing performance.
Kim Ok-bin was romantically involved with her ‘Yoo-na’s Street’ co-star Lee Hee-joon, but after six months of dating, the couple broke up.
Kim has been extremely close with both her younger sisters. After she moved to Seoul, and found success in the industry, she invited both her sisters to stay with her and even supported the career growth of her sister, Chae Seo-jin, as an actress.