Kim Hye-ja (born September 15, 1941 in Seoul, South Korea) is a South Korean actress. Best known to South Korean audiences as the archetypal mother figure in popular television series such as Country Diaries, What Is Love?, My Mother's Sea, and Roses and Beansprouts, Kim drew international critical acclaim in the 2009 noir thriller Mother.
Kim Hye-ja in February 2019
|Revised Romanization||Gim Hye-ja|
Kim was studying Living Art at Ewha Womans University when she dropped out of college to pursue a career in acting.
Kim made her acting debut in 1963, and went on to star in more than 90 television dramas, including I Sell Happiness (1978), Sand Castle (1988), Winter Mist (1989), What Is Love? (1991), My Mother's Sea (1993), You and I (1997), and Roses and Beansprouts (1999). Country Diaries, in which she appeared for 22 years, is particularly notable for making Kim into a household name and cementing her image among South Korean audiences as an iconic, unconditionally loving and self-sacrificing mother. Because of this wholesome onscreen persona, CJ CheilJedang hired her to endorse their products and appear in their advertisements for nearly 30 years, from 1975 to 2002.
Though she won Best Actress at the Manila International Film Festival in 1983 for Late Autumn and occasionally acted in stage plays and musicals, Kim was most active in television for four decades. She holds the record of having won the Daesang ("Grand Prize," or highest award) at the MBC Drama Awards the most times (3): in 1988, 1992, and 1999. Kim is the first and only person to have won the Daesang four times at the Baeksang Arts Awards: in 1979, 1989, 2009, and 2019.
As Kim grew older, she expressed her disappointment in being relegated to supporting roles. Then in 2008, screenwriter Kim Soo-hyun cast Kim in the leading role of a woman who declares a one-year break from her family after spending decades as a housewife looking after her three children, a husband and a widowed father-in-law in Mom's Dead Upset. Kim's character broke free from stereotypical South Korean TV mothers in her desire for independence, and initial misgivings that viewers would find her unsympathetic turned out to be unfounded, with the series recording a peak viewership rating of 42.7%.
But 2009 marked another turning point in Kim's career, when she was cast in her first film a decade after Mayonnaise (1999). Acclaimed director Bong Joon-ho had long been an enthusiastic admirer of Kim's, and he said he'd wanted to make a film centered around the veteran actress, then it occurred to him that being the national symbol of motherhood might be a burden for Kim as it was an honor. So he decided to craft a role that would showcase Kim's talents and depict the duality of motherhood, then spent four years convincing her to take the role. In Mother, Kim surprised Korean audiences with her intense performance as a middle-aged single mother who obsessively loves her mentally handicapped son and sets out to prove his innocence when he's accused of murder. Bong said he would have given up the project if Kim had not accepted his offer, "Without Kim Hye-ja, Mother wouldn't exist." Kim returned the compliment, saying Bong helped her "reactivate all the cells that have been dormant in (her) body." The film received critical acclaim from domestic audiences and international film festivals, and Kim won numerous acting awards. She was the first ever Korean actress to be named Best Actress by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. 
From 2011 to 2012, Kim headlined I Live in Cheongdam-dong, one of the inaugural programs of newly launched cable channel jTBC. It was Kim's first sitcom in her 48-year career, and it followed her character as she and her family move into a rundown building in the wealthy area of southern Seoul and struggle to keep pace with their well-off neighbors.
She returned to the theater in 2013 to 2014 with Oscar, Letters to God, a Korean stage adaptation of the French novel Oscar and the Lady in Pink. In the one-woman show, Kim played 11 roles, including Oscar, a 10-year-old boy dying of leukemia, and the nurse (named Jang-mi or Granny Rose) that he confides in.
Kim has been a goodwill ambassador for the nonprofit Christian relief organization World Vision Korea since 1991. She has visited refugee camps in war-torn and poverty-stricken regions in more than 20 countries around the globe, including Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, and sponsors 103 children from underdeveloped countries. In 2004, she wrote and published a book based on her experiences titled Don't Beat Someone, Even with Flowers, and donated all proceeds from its sales to underprivileged children in North Korea.
|2014||How to Steal a Dog||Old lady|
|1977||I Regret It||MBC|
|1978||I Sell Happiness||MBC|
|Even If the Wind Blows||MBC|
|1979||Mom, I Like Dad||MBC|
|1980||Country Diaries (until 2002)||Chairman Kim's wife||MBC|
|1981||Let Us Love||MBC|
|1982||Yesterday and Tomorrow||MBC|
|1985||500 Years of Joseon: The Wind Orchid||Queen Munjeong||MBC|
|1988||Sand Castle||Jang Hyun-joo||MBC|
|1989||The 2nd Republic||Kim Ok-sook||MBC|
|Winter Mist||Seo Myung-ae||MBC|
|Your Toast||Jin Sang-shim||MBC|
|A Happy Woman||MBC|
|1990||What Do Women Want?||Jung-hee||MBC|
|1991||What Is Love?||Yeo Soon-ja||MBC|
|1992||Two Women||Oh Hye-jung||MBC|
|1993||My Mother's Sea||Young-hee||MBC|
|1994||A Human Land||Kim Shil-dan||KBS2|
|1996||Salted Mackerel||Kim Gong-shim||MBC|
|1997||Your Mother's Story||MBC|
|You and I||Kim Eun-soon||MBC|
|1999||Roses and Beansprouts||Lee Pil-nyeo||MBC|
|2002||Since We Met||Jo Nam-deuk||MBC|
|2004||The Autumn of Major General Hong||Heo Young-sook||SBS|
|2005||Smile of Spring Day||Park Nae-soon||MBC|
|2006||Princess Hours||Queen Dowager Park||MBC|
|2008||Mom's Dead Upset||Kim Han-ja||KBS2|
|2011||I Live in Cheongdam-dong||Kim Hye-ja||jTBC|
|2015||Unkind Ladies||Kang Soon-ok||KBS2|
|2016||Dear My Friends||Jo Hee-ja||tvN|
|1987||Before the Rooster Crows Over Judah|
|1991||19 and 80||Maude|
|The Marriage of Figaro|
|Our Broadway Mama|
|2001||Shirley Valentine||Shirley Valentine|
|2013–2014||Oscar, Letters to God||Oscar/Jang-mi/Parents/Peggy Blue etc.|
|1994||Kim Hye-ja's Small Voice||People||ISBN 8985947028|
|2004||Don't Beat Someone, Even with Flowers||Ancient Futures||ISBN 8995501405|
|2011||Small World (Watching the World Unfold
Before Becoming an Adult)
Awards and nominationsEdit
|1966||2nd Baeksang Arts Awards||Best New Actress (TV)||Won|
|1976||12th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actress (TV)||Bride Diary||Won|
|1978||14th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actress (TV)||You||Won|
|1979||15th Baeksang Arts Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television||I Sell Happiness||Won|
|Best Actress (TV)||Won|
|1982||21st Grand Bell Awards||Best Actress||Late Autumn||Nominated|
|1983||2nd Manila International Film Festival||Best Actress||Won|
|1988||24th Dong-A Theatre Awards||Best Actress||19 and 80||Won|
|MBC Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Sand Castle||Won|
|1989||16th Korea Broadcasting Awards||Best Actress||Winter Mist||Won|
|25th Baeksang Arts Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television||Winter Mist,
|Best Actress (TV)||Won|
|1992||MBC Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||What Is Love?||Won|
|1996||4th Korea Advertisers Association Consumer's Choice||Good Model Award||N/A||Won|
|1999||36th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actress||Mayonnaise||Nominated|
|1st Social Welfare Day||Presidential Commendation||N/A||Won|
|1st Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Awards||Recipient||N/A||Won|
|MBC Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Roses and Beansprouts||Won|
|2002||MBC Hall of Fame||Recipient||Won|
|2003||14th Wiam Jang Ji-yeon Prize||Recipient||N/A||Won|
|2nd Star 선행 대상||Recipient||N/A||Won|
|1st Feminist Award in Pop Culture and Arts||Recipient||N/A||Won|
|2008||KBS Drama Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang)||Mom's Dead Upset||Won|
|Top Excellence Award, Actress||Nominated|
|2009||45th Baeksang Arts Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television||Won|
|Best Actress (TV)||Nominated|
|10th Busan Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||Mother||Won|
|29th Korean Association of Film Critics Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|18th Buil Film Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|18th Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Film Festival||Best Actress in a Foreign Film||Won|
|2nd Style Icon Awards||Beautiful Sharing Award||N/A||Won|
|46th Grand Bell Awards||Best Actress||Mother||Nominated|
|3rd Asia Pacific Screen Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|30th Blue Dragon Film Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|12th Director's Cut Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|10th Women in Film Korea Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|2010||1st KOFRA Film Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|7th Max Movie Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|4th Asian Film Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|46th Baeksang Arts Awards||Best Actress (Film)||Nominated|
|36th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards||Best Actress||Won|
|14th Online Film Critics Society Awards||Best Actress||Nominated|
|IndieWire Critics Poll||Best Actress||5th place|
|Village Voice Film Poll||Best Actress||3rd place|
|World Vision International||Special Award||N/A||Won|
|2011||17th Chlotrudis Awards||Best Actress||Mother||Won|
|1st Beautiful Artists Awards||Recipient||N/A||Won|
|30th Sejong Culture Award||Recipient, Social Volunteering category||N/A||Won|
|2014||9th Golden Ticket Awards||Best Actress in a Play||Oscar, Letters to God||Won|
|2015||24th Buil Film Awards||Best Supporting Actress||How to Steal a Dog||Nominated|
|52nd Grand Bell Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|KBS Drama Awards||Top Excellence Award, Actress||Unkind Ladies||Nominated|
|Excellence Award, Actress in a Mid-length Drama||Nominated|
|PD Award (chosen by PDs from KBS, SBS & MBC)||Won|
|4th CARI K Drama Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Won|
|2016||tvN10 Awards||Best Actress||Dear My Friends||Nominated|
|2019||55th Baeksang Arts Awards||Grand Prize (Daesang) for Television||Dazzling||Won|
|Best Actress (TV)||Nominated|
- Her birthdate has been erroneously reported as October 25, 1941.
- "Kim Hye-ja". Korean Film Biz Zone. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Actress Kim Hye-ja: the Audrey Hepburn of Korea". KBS Global via Hancinema. 18 May 2005. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Lee, Do-eun (3 December 2014). "Kim Hye-ja sheds motherly image for latest film". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- She tied with Kim Young-ok in 1979.
- Kim, Hyo-eun (18 April 2012). "In with the old, out with the new". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Chun, Su-jin (6 August 2008). "TV Review: Runaway moms swap drudgery for liberty". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Mom's Dead Upset Ends with 40.6% Viewer Rating". KBS Global. 30 September 2008. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Chung, Ah-young (7 April 2008). "Actress Kim to Star in Bong's Film". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Ki, Sun-min; Park, Sun-young (29 May 2009). "Director drew inspiration from a maternal muse". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Adams, Sam (9 March 2010). "Interview: Bong Joon-Ho". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Yang, Sung-jin (29 April 2009). "Director Bong back with mother-son tale". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Lee, Hyo-won (13 December 2010). "Kim Hye-ja named best actress by LA critics". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Kang, Seok-ho (16 January 2011). "Korean Actress Kim Hye-ja Wins Best Actress from LAFCA". Arirang News. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "[단독인터뷰] 국민엄마 김혜자의 눈물 "미투라니?… 세상이 사람들이 괴물같다"". 2019-06-05.
- Sung, So-young (1 December 2011). "TV enters new era with launch of four networks". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Kim, Min-hye (31 October 2013). "Kim Hye-ja: I Want to Share Preciousness of Life". Yonhap. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Lee, Ji-young (25 April 2014). "No answers for Kim Hye-ja". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Yim, Seung-hye (29 October 2011). "Actress Kim Hye-ja honored for charity work". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim Hye-ja: Harnessing Fame to Help Children in Poor Countries". The Chosun Ilbo. 26 March 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Ethiopian Child Welfare Center Named for Kim Hye-ja". The Chosun Ilbo. 2 March 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim Hye-ja's Bangladeshi son enters graduate school in Korea". The Korea Herald. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "[공식] 김혜자X한지민X남주혁X손호준 '눈이부시게' 확정..내년 상반기 방송". Sports Chosun (in Korean). November 7, 2018.
- "Events Calendar: Doubt". The Korea Herald. 3 March 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim, Ha win top film critics award". 10Asia. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Lee, Hyo-won (6 November 2009). "Kim Hye-ja Named Best Actress in China Festival". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 20 October 2014. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Kim Hye-ja named best actress at Chinese film fest". The Korea Herald. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Kim Hye-ja wins Best Actress at Chinese film fest". 10Asia. 6 November 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Han, Sang-hee (27 November 2009). "Kim Hye-ja Named Best Actress at Asia-Pacific Fest". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Ko, Jae-wan (27 November 2009). "Kim Hye-ja wins Best Actress at Asia Pacific awards". 10Asia. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Park Chan-wook Named Director of the Year". The Chosun Ilbo. 22 December 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (15 December 2009). "Park Chan-ok Named Female Director of Year". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 4 February 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Ko, Kyoung-seok (28 January 2010). "Film journalists pick Song Kang-ho, Kim Hye-ja top actors". 10Asia. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- "Old Partner wins Best Picture at Max Movie Awards". 10Asia. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim Hye-ja wins Max Movie best actress award". 10Asia. 10 February 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Moon, Dan-bee (25 March 2010). "Mother named best movie at the Asian Film Awards". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Sperling, Nicole (13 December 2010). "The Social Network is anointed by L.A. Film Critics Assn". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim Hye-ja named best actress by L.A. critics". The Korea Herald. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Hong, Lucia (15 December 2010). "Kim Hye-ja named best actress by Los Angeles Film Critics Association". 10Asia. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- "Kim Hye-ja Wins Best Actress Award from L.A. Film Critics". The Chosun Ilbo. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- Kim, Yoon-mi (13 October 2011). "Geum receives Sejong Culture Award". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 4 February 2015.
- Yoo, Chung-hee (April 4, 2019). "김서형·염정아·김혜자 등 '백상예술대상' TV부문 최종 후보 공개". Ten Asia (in Korean). Naver. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
- "Veteran actress Kim Hye-ja wins grand prize at Baeksang Awards". The Korea Herald. May 2, 2019.