Shin Eun-kyung began her entertainment career as a commercial model before making her acting debut in 1988. In 1994, she appeared in the MBC medical drama General Hospital, which scored her several awards including the Baeksang Best New Actress. In 1997, she was cast to play a prostitute in director Im Kwon-taek’s film Downfall, which won her Best Actress at the 18th Blue Dragon Film Awards. In 2001, her popularity reached new heights when she led the blockbuster movie My Wife Is a Gangster, which spawned two sequels. In 2010, she received a Top Excellence Award at the MBC Drama Awards for Flames of Ambition. She next starred in the 2012 SBS daily series Still You and in the 2013 MBC revenge melo Scandal: A Shocking and Wrongful Incident, which both gave her acting honors. In 2020, she joined the cast of the megahit SBS series Penthouse, which earned her an Excellence Award at the SBS Drama Awards.

In 2003, Shin Eun-kyung tied the knot with Kim Jung-soo, who was the CEO of her then-talent agency. She filed for divorce in August 2007 after her husband forged documents using her seal to borrow money from another entertainment company. The couple has a son, who was diagnosed with hydrocephalus.