Childhood & Early Life
Kim So-yeon was born in Seoul on 2nd November 1980 into a middle class and conservative family. Everyone around her told her how beautiful she looked, and her love for the television dramas further compelled her to eat right and exercise regularly to keep herself fit for a future in the entertainment industry.
She somehow knew that her family won’t be supportive of that, and at the age of 14, she got a chance to participate in the Miss Binggrae beauty pageant, for which she had no money to buy the makeup kit. And she didn’t even get the permission from her parents to go ahead with the pageant. She used a marker as eyeliner and the cheapest makeup kit that she could find.
She looked older than she was, and that, along with her beautiful face and stunning body, helped her start early in the industry with meaty roles. Along with that, she kept doing modelling assignments and commercials, and seeing her success, her parents finally made peace with her. During a point in time, Kim was the highest earning South Korean model of her age. But her aim was to act and hence took a professional acting training from Theatre and Film department of the Dongguk University.
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Kim made her acting debut at the age of 14 in the series ‘The Dinosaur Teacher’ for which she also won the Best Young Actress Award at the SBS Drama Awards. Not too long after this initial success, she played key parts in highly popular dramas, ‘Reporting for Duty’ and ‘Soonpoong Clinic’ in the mid-90s. This was the starting phase of her career and suddenly, she was seen everywhere, from TV commercials to magazines and she had also worked as a host for the highly popular music show ‘Inkigayo’.
In 1997, she made her film debut in the movie ‘Change’, in which she essayed the role of Ko Eun-bi. And by then, she was also appearing in quite a few music videos, all that while she was still a teen.
The real testimony of her immense talent was seen in ‘All About Eve’, a drama which arrived in 2000, and Kim played a woman who was deceiving, horrible, villainous and yet, extremely beautiful. This character was loved not only by the South Korean audience, but international audiences too fell in love with her portrayal of a vamp. But this also came with a downside; Kim was now being offered similar roles, which put her in the risk of facing typecast issues.
Because of that she started rejecting some good offers and this, in return, had a very bad impact on her overall career. Her next few roles somehow helped her in shedding the image that she pretty much wanted to get rid of. However, it was the 2005 Chinese film ‘Seven Swords’, which turned out to be a massive blow to her career. The film was her attempt to utilize her growing fan-base in China, but the movie tanked and so did her TV dramas such as ‘Just Like a Beautiful Flying Butterfly’ and ‘Anhui Merchants’.
This major blow to her career got her depressed and she met with her family during her three-year long break. During this phase in her life, she wanted to be sure whether she wanted to continue with her acting career or not. Her South Korean series ‘Autumn Shower’ also received negative reviews, and it seemed like the final nail in the coffin.
It looked like she was taking herself and her work way too seriously. But when she made a comeback with a different attitude, she starred in 2008’s ‘Gourmet’. Later, she said in her interviews that she, for the first time, had a lot of fun acting and this led her to continue with her career. And this change of attitude brought with it, the much needed success.
In 2009, she appeared in the spy thriller series ‘Iris’, in which she played the role of a North Korean detective. For her role, she cut short her hair and went deep into the skin of her character and as a result, her performance received widespread critical acclaim. The show was also a success and Kim ended up with the Popularity Award at the SBS Drama Awards that year.
2010 turned out to be another great year for Kim as she became part of two successful dramas, ‘Dr. Champ’ and ‘Prosecutor Princess’, and she owned the award functions as well by winning another SBS Drama award.
In 2012, she was casted in a key role in the historical drama film ‘Gabi’, for which she trained and practiced very hard to play the role of a Royal Barista, who also happens to be working on a plan to assassinate the emperor. The film was a success and so was her next TV project, which also happened to be a historical drama by the name ‘The Great Seer’.
In 2014, she continued playing highly challenging roles with a major role in ‘I need Romance 3’, in which she played the role of an older woman who falls for a much younger man, who also happened to be her childhood friend.
In 2015, Kim joined the cast of the successful variety show ‘We Got Married’ and in the same year, she played a lead role in ‘Falling for Innocence’, a comedy drama series in which she played the role of a businesswoman, who falls in love with her secretary.
In 2016, she appeared in the award winning family drama ‘Happy Home’, for which she won many awards such as APAN Star Award, Korea Drama Awards and MBC Drama Awards.