Bae Doona

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Bae Doona
Bae Doona-181119(cut).jpg
Bae in November 2018
Seoul, South Korea
EducationKonkuk University – Department of Film Arts
OccupationActress, photographer
Years active1999–present
Korean name
Revised RomanizationBae Du-na
McCune–ReischauerPae Tuna

Bae Doona (Korean배두나, also credited as Doona Bae), is a South Korean actress and photographer. She became known outside Korea for her roles as a political activist in Park Chan-wook's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), archer Park Nam-joo in Bong Joon-ho's The Host (2006), and as the doll in Hirokazu Kore-edas Air Doll (2009).[1] She has had English-speaking roles in the Wachowski films Cloud Atlas (2012) and Jupiter Ascending (2015), as well as their Netflix television series Sense8 (2015–2018). She is also on a Netflix period zombie thriller, Kingdom (2019–present). Her most recent work is the starring role in the 2021 Netflix science-fiction series The Silent Sea.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Bae Doona was born in Seoul, South Korea. Growing up, she would follow her mother, Kim Hwa-young, a stage actress, to theater and rehearsal halls, learning lines of dialogue as she went along. This did not initially lead her towards acting, saying: "People might say that since my mother is a theater actor, I became an actress. But to me, those experiences probably had the opposite effect. On the contrary, because I saw many great actors working with my mother, I thought this was a job only people with extraordinary talent could do."[4]


1998–2005: Beginnings[edit]

A Hanyang University student in 1998, she was scouted by a modeling agency in Seoul. This led to her modeling of clothing for COOLDOG's catalog, among others. In 1999, she switched to acting before completing her studies at Hanyang University, debuting in the TV drama School.[5] Later that year, she appeared as the ghost in The Ring Virus, a Korean remake of the Japanese horror film Ring.[6]

In 2000, director Bong Joon-ho cast Doona in the film Barking Dogs Never Bite for her willingness to do the part without makeup, something other South Korean actresses refused to do.[7][8] She later cited this part as the role that pushed her to pursue a serious acting career, saying, "That film made me decide to become an actress –- a good actress –- and that film thereby changed my whole life."[9] In Kim So-young's documentary Women's History Trilogy (2000–2004), she expressed her admiration for veteran South Korean actress Yoon Jeong-hee. In the same documentary, Bae said her own most memorable scene was being chased by the homeless man throughout the apartment in Barking Dogs Never Bite.[10] That same year, she gave a risque performance (albeit with a body double for the more intense scenes) in Plum Blossom,[11] and started getting more work on television.

This was followed by 2001's Take Care of My Cat, directed by Jeong Jae-eun,[12] and 2002's Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, directed by Park Chan-wook.[13][14]

In 2003, both Tube and Spring Bears Love disappointed at the box office.[15][16] After completing principal photography on Spring Bears Love, she decided to take time off from film work, saying, "I never lived even once without having anything to do. The moment a film was presented to the media, I was almost always already shooting the next one [...] I thought by myself: now my first cycle is really over. While I rest a little, I wanted to make a fresh start."[4]

During her hiatus from film, she took up photography, examples of which can be seen on her official blog and in her published photo-essay books.[17] She also continued to work on TV, starring in Country Princess and Rosemary.[18][19] Bae acted on stage in 2004 in a production of Sunday Seoul (not to be confused with the South Korean movie of the same title), a play co-written by Park Chan-wook.[4]

In 2005, she played an exchange student who joins a band in the Japanese film Linda Linda Linda,[11][20][21][22] then played a divorced woman in the experimental omnibus TV series Beating Heart.[23]

2006–present: Breakthrough success[edit]

Bae Doona promoting The Host in 2006.

She reunited with Bong Joon-ho in 2006's The Host, which became the highest-grossing film in South Korean box office history.[24] For her role, she trained in archery for months.[25] She then returned to television, through the series Someday and How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor.[26][27]

After winning accolades for Air Doll, a 2009 film by Japanese director Hirokazu Kore-eda about an inflatable doll that develops a soul and falls in love,[28][29][30][31] Bae made back-to-back TV series in 2010, playing a high school teacher in Master of Study,[32][33] and a night club singer in Gloria.[34][35][36]

Her 2012 sports film As One was based on the true story of the 1991 world table tennis championship held in Chiba, Japan where North Korean player Ri Bun-hui and South Korean player Hyun Jung-hwa defeated the Chinese team. Bae and co-star Ha Ji-won were trained by Hyun herself, and Bae learned to play left-handed like Ri.[37][38][39][40][41][42] Afterwards she made a brief appearance in the science fiction film Doomsday Book.[43]

Bae made her English-language, Hollywood debut in Cloud Atlas, as Sonmi~451, a clone in a dystopian Korea.[44][45][46] She also played the minor roles of Tilda Ewing, the wife of an abolitionist in pre-Civil War America, and a Mexican woman who crosses paths with an assassin. Co-directed by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, the US$100 million adaptation of David Mitchell's novel premiered at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival to divisive reviews, though Bae's performance was praised by critics.[47][48] In a 2019 interview, she said of the Wachowskis, "They have become as important as my mother; they have my respect and my trust. When they contacted me to participate in Cloud Atlas, I couldn’t believe it. We first met on Skype and I made a demo tape that I sent them. They gave me an important role despite my lack of English proficiency. I believe that a certain understanding developed between us at that time, which pushed me to follow them on Sense8. Thanks to them, I have had opportunities that are not given to all the actors. Most importantly, it is the passion they bring to their work that has made our collaboration so enjoyable. They made me want to surpass myself and enabled me to overcome fear and limits."[49]

Back in Korea, Bae next starred in the 2014 film A Girl at My Door, directed by July Jung and produced by Lee Chang-dong.[50] Playing a small-town police officer who tries to save a mysterious young girl she suspects is a victim of domestic violence, Bae said she was so fascinated by the story and emotionally challenging role that she decided to star in the movie without pay three hours after reading the script.[51][52] The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival,[53] and Bae later won Best Actress at the Asian Film Awards for her performance.[54][55][56]

In 2015, she again worked with the Wachowskis for their space opera Jupiter Ascending, in which she played a small supporting role as a bounty hunter.[57][58][59][60][61] This was followed by Sense8, an American science fiction series created by the Wachowskis and co-written by J. Michael Straczynski. Concerning eight strangers from different cultures and parts of the world who share a violent psychic vision and suddenly find themselves telepathically connected, Sense8 began streaming on Netflix in 2015.[62]

Bae then appeared in a 90-minute web film directed by her older brother, commercial director Bae Doo-han. Titled Red Carpet Dream, it is a biopic of how Bae dreamed of becoming an actress when she was young and her 20-year acting career.[63] Commissioned for the 20th anniversary of the Busan International Film Festival and sponsored by MAC Cosmetics, the film screened at the festival as well as on Facebook and cable channel CGV.[64]

Back on the big screen, Bae starred alongside Ha Jung-woo in the survival drama film The Tunnel.[65] She then teamed up with Japanese director Shunji Iwai and actor Kim Joo-hyuk for the short film, Chang-ok's Letter.[66][67]

Bae returned to Korean TV screens in 2017 with mystery legal thriller Stranger, playing a passionate police officer.[68] The series was a hit and gained favorable reviews for its tight plot, gripping sequences and strong performances.[69][70]

In June 2018, Bae was one of 14 professionals from the Korean film industry invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).[71] The same year, she starred in crime thriller The Drug King.[72][73] She also stars in Netflix's zombie series Kingdom,[74] and romance drama Matrimonial Chaos, a remake of the Japanese television series of the same name.[75]



Year English title Original title Role Notes
1999 The Ring Virus (Ring) Park Eun-suh
2000 Barking Dogs Never Bite 플란다스의 개 (Dogs of Plandas) Park Hyun-nam
Plum Blossom 청춘 (Youth) Seo Nam-ok
2001 Take Care of My Cat 고양이를 부탁해 (Take Care of My Cat) Yoo Tae-hee
2002 Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance 복수는 나의 것 (Vengeance Is Mine) Cha Young-mi
Saving My Hubby 굳세어라 금순아 (Be Brave, Geum-soon!) Jung Geum-soon [76]
2003 Tube 튜브 (Tube) Song In-kyung
Spring Bears Love 봄날의 곰을 좋아하세요? (Do you like springtime bear?) Jung Hyun-chae
2005 Linda Linda Linda リンダ リンダ リンダ (Linda Linda Linda) Son Japanese film
Tea Date Sun-hee American short film[77]
2006 The Host 괴물 (Monster) Park Nam-joo
2009 Air Doll 空気人形 (Air Doll) Nozomi Japanese film
2012 Doomsday Book 인류멸망보고서 (Report of Human Fall) Adult Park Min-seo (cameo) segment: "Happy Birthday"
As One 코리아 (Korea) Ri Bun-hui
Cloud Atlas Sonmi~451 /
Sonmi~351 /
Tilda Ewing /
Megan's mom /
Mexican woman
German / American film
2014 A Girl at My Door 도희야 (Dohiya) Lee Young-nam
2015 Jupiter Ascending Razo American film
Red Carpet Dream Herself Web film
2016 The Tunnel 터널 (Tunnel) Se-hyun
2017 Chang-ok's Letter Eun-ha Short film
2018 The Drug King 마약왕 (Drug king) Kim Jeong-ah
2020 Iamhere #JeSuisLà Soo French film
TBA Broker 브로커 [78]
The Next Sohee 다음 소희 Detective Eugene [79]

Television series[edit]

Year English title Original title Role Notes Network
1998 Angel's Kiss 천사의 키스 Angel's Kiss) KBS2
1999 School 학교 (School) Doona Bae KBS1
Ad Madness 광끼 (Cow) Pyo Roo-na KBS2
2000 Love Story "Miss Hip-hop and Mr. Rock" 러브스토리: 미스 힙합과 미스터 록 Young-yi SBS
Look Back in Anger 성난 얼굴로 돌아보라 (Turn to the angry face Lee Mi-na KBS2
Cruise Ship of Love Doona Bae KBS2
RNA[5] Park Se-mi KBS2
I Want To Keep Seeing You[80] 자꾸만 보고 싶네 (I'd love to see you) Ham Choon-bong SBS
Mothers and Sisters[81] 엄마야 누나야 (I'm your mother) Gong Chan-mi MBC
2001 Open Drama Man & Woman
"You say it's love, but I think it's desire"
2003 Country Princess 위풍당당 그녀 (She is an idol) Lee Eun-hee MBC
Rosemary 로즈마리 (Rojeumari) Shin Kyung-soo KBS2
2005 Beating Heart 떨리는 가슴 (Trembling chest) Doona Bae MBC
2006 Someday 썸데이 (Someday) Hana Yamaguchi OCN
2007 How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor 완벽한 이웃을 만나는 법 (How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor) Jung Yoon-hee SBS
2010 Master of Study 공부의 신 (God of study) Han Soo-jung KBS2
Gloria 글로리아 (Geulroria) Na Jin-jin MBC
2015–2018 Sense8 Sun Bak Netflix
2017–2020 Stranger 비밀의 숲 (Secret Forest) Han Yeo-jin tvN
2018 Matrimonial Chaos 최고의 이혼 (Best Divorce) Kang Hwi-roo KBS2
2019–present Kingdom 킹덤 (Kingdom) Seo-bi Netflix
2019 Persona 페르소나 (Persona) Doona "Love Set" episode
2021 The Silent Sea 고요의 바다 Song Ji-an [82]

Music video appearances[edit]

Year Song title Artist
2000 "You" Fish
"Party Time" Ray Jay
"단" Kim Don-kyoo
2007 "Every Time I Look at You" Kang Kyun-sung
2009 "Tsumetai Ame" Every Little Thing
2010 "Seesaw" / "Confession" Hot Potato
"Temperature of Separation" Yoon Jong-shin feat. You Hee-yeol


Year Title Network Notes
1999 Music Camp MBC MC
Radio TenTen Club SBS DJ


Year Title Role Notes
2002 Robert Zucco N/A Producer
2004 Sunday Seoul Actress, producer
2008 The Visit N/A Producer


Year Track From Album
2005 リンダ リンダ ("Linda Linda") Linda Linda Linda OST
僕の右手 Boku no Migite ("My Right Hand")
終わらない歌 Owaranai Uta ("Never Ending Song")
2010 글로리아 ("Gloria") Gloria OST
바보랍니다 ("I'm a Fool")
"Ready to Fly" (feat. Jung Jae-yun)


Year Title Publisher ISBN
2006 Doona's London Play Taste Factory ISBN 89-958439-0-X
2007 Doona's Tokyo Play Taste Factory ISBN 89-958439-5-0
2008 Doona's Seoul Play Chung-Ang Books ISBN 978-89-6188-765-6

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
1999 KBS Drama Awards Best New Actress School, Ad Madness Won
2000 Grand Bell Awards Best New Actress Barking Dogs Never Bite Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards Best New Actress Won [83]
Director's Cut Awards Best New Actress Plum Blossom Won [84]
KBS Drama Awards Popularity Award RNA Won [85]
2001 Korean Association of Film Critics Awards Best Actress Take Care of My Cat Won [86]
Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Actress Won [87]
Women in Film Korea Awards Best Actress Won [88]
2002 Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress Won [89]
Busan Film Critics Awards Best Actress Won [90]
Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Actress Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance Nominated [91]
2003 MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress Country Princess Nominated [92]
2006 Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Supporting Actress The Host Nominated
Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated [93][94][95]
Director's Cut Awards Best Actress Won [96][97]
2007 SBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor Nominated
2008 Chlotrudis Awards Best Supporting Actress Linda Linda Linda Nominated
2010 Tokyo Sports Film Awards Best Actress Air Doll Won [98][99]
Japan Academy Prize Best Actress Nominated [100][101][102]
Asian Film Awards Best Actress Nominated [103]
Takasaki Film Festival Best Actress Won [104][105]
MBC Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress Gloria Nominated [106]
KBS Drama Awards Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Master of Study Nominated
2013 CinEuphoria Awards Best Supporting Actress Cloud Atlas Nominated
International Online Cinema Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
2014 Golden Rooster and Hundred Flowers Awards Best Actress in a Foreign Film A Girl at My Door Won [107][108]
Buil Film Awards Best Actress Nominated [109]
2015 Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Actress Won [110]
Asian Film Awards Best Actress Won [54][111]
Wildflower Film Awards Best Actress Nominated [112]
Baeksang Arts Awards Best Actress Nominated [113]
2016 Blue Dragon Film Awards Best Supporting Actress The Tunnel Nominated
Popular Star Award Won [114]
Grand Bell Awards Best Actress Nominated
2017 Asian Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Baeksang Arts Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Chunsa Film Art Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Buil Film Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Elle Style Awards Super Icon (Female) N/A Won [115]
2018 KBS Drama Awards Top Excellence Award, Actress Matrimonial Chaos Nominated
Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries Nominated
Best Couple (with Cha Tae-hyun) Won [116]
2019 Busan International Film Festival ‘Etoile du Cinéma’ (Cinema Star) N/A Won [117]
2021 3rd Asia Contents Awards Best Actress Stranger 2 Pending [118][119]


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