Lee Hye-young began acting on stage with the local staging of the musical The Sound of Music in 1981 and has since enjoyed an award-winning theater career. She also expanded her acting to the screen, eventually becoming one of the most prominent actresses in the 1980s. In 1986, she was named Best Supporting Actress at the 25th Grand Bell Awards for Winter Wanderer and Best New Actress at the 22nd Baeksang Arts Awards for Queen Bee. In 1989, acted alongside Ahn Sung-ki in the film The Age of Success, which won her Best Actress at the 25th Baeksang Arts Awards. In 1992, she appeared in the film Myong-ja Akiko Sonia, which scored her two Best Supporting Actress trophies. In 2004, she joined the main cast of the KBS2 melodrama I’m Sorry, I Love You. In 2009, she played Lee Min-ho’s mother in the popular KBS2 series Boys Before Flower. In 2018, she was cast in the tvN dramas Mother and Lawless Attorney. In 2021, she headlined director Hong Sang-soo’s drama film In Front of Your Face, which gave her numerous Best Actress nominations and wins.

Lee Hye-young’s father was celebrated film director Lee Man-hee.