Kim Hae-sook began her now decades-long acting career in the 1974 MBC series Chief Inspector and has since appeared in various television dramas and films. In 2000, she bagged the Best Supporting Actress trophy at the KBS Drama Awards for the hit series Autumn Fairy Tale. In 2004 and 2005, she received acting recognitions at the KBS Drama Awards for her mother roles in the dramas Oh Feel Young and My Rosy Life. In 2008, she was awarded the Special Jury Prize for her work in the SBS series First Wives’ Club. That same year, she took home Best Supporting Actress trophies at the 17th Buil Film Awards and the 45th Grand Bell Awards for the movie Open City. In 2009, she was cast in the horror movie Thirst, in which she was named Best Supporting Actress at the 17th Chunsa Film Art Awards and the 30th Blue Dragon Film Awards. In 2012 and 2015, she picked up Best Supporting Actress wins at the 49th and 52nd Grand Bell Awards for the movies The Thieves and The Throne. In 2016, she earned a Top Excellence Award for her performance in the SBS family drama Yeah, That’s How It Is. In 2019, she headlined the KBS2 series Mother of Mine, where she played the role of a mom of three daughters. The series won her the Daesang in the drama category at the 27th Korea Culture and Entertainment Awards.

In 2005, Kim Hae-sook published a memoir titled Mother of Hallyu Stars: Kim Hae-sook’s Story.