Kim Hye-ja began her decades-long acting career in 1963. She earned the nickname “national mother” for her iconic roles as a loving mom in many of her projects such as MBC’s long-running drama Country Diaries. She is the only person to win the Daesang for TV at the Baeksang Arts Awards four times: in 1979 for MBC’s I Sell Happiness, in 1989 for MBC’s Sand Castle and Winter Mist, in 2009 for KBS2’s Mom’s Dead Upset, and in 2019 for JTBC’s The Light in Your Eyes. She also has four Baeksang Best Actress trophies and three MBC Daesang awards under her belt. In 2009, she starred in director Bong Joon-ho’s critically acclaimed noir thriller film Mother, where she portrayed a widow whose intellectually disabled son is accused of killing a young girl. Her performance in the movie earned her numerous awards, including Best Actress at the 36th Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, making her the first-ever Korean actress to achieve such feat.
Kim Hye-ja is also known for her active participation in humanitarian works, particularly as a goodwill ambassador for the nonprofit Christian relief organization World Vision. She has travelled to many developing countries to extend help and has also financially supported over 100 children around the world.