Doona Bae (age: 39) is a South Korean actress known for Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Bong Joon-ho's The Host, Air Doll, Cloud Atlas, Jupiter Ascending, and Sense8.
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Doona Bae Bio
Doona Bae (born October 11, 1979) is a South Korean Actress and photographer. She first 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 an inflatable sex doll -come-to-life in Hirokazu Koreeda’s Air Doll (2009). She has had English-speaking roles in the Wachowski films Cloud Atlas (2012) and Jupiter Ascending (2015), and their TV series Sense8 (2015-present).
A Hanyang University student in 1998, Bae was scouted by a Model talent agency while walking in Seoul. This led to modeling clothing for COOLDOG’s catalog, amongst others. In 1999 she made the switch to acting, debuting in the TV drama School. Later that year, she appeared as the ghost in The Ring Virus, a Korean remake of the Japanese horror film Ring.
In 2000, director Bong Joon-ho cast her in the film Barking Dogs Never Bite for her willingness to do the part without makeup, something other South Korean actresses were unwilling to do. In Kim So-young’s documentary Women’s History Trilogy (2000–2004), Bae stated her admiration for veteran South Korean Actress Yoon Jeong-hee; Yoon returned the compliment, saying “Bae Doo-na owns her world.” In this same documentary, Bae shared how her own most memorable scene was being chased by the homeless man throughout the apartment in Barking Dogs Never Bite. That same year she gave a risque performance (albeit with a body double for the more intense scenes) in Plum Blossom, and slowly started getting more work on television.
This was followed by two more critical successes, 2001’s Take Care of My Cat, directed by Jeong Jae-eun, and 2002’s Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, directed by Park Chan-wook.
2003 was less kind to Bae, as she saw both Tube and Spring Bears Love flop at the box office. After completing principal photography on Spring Bears Love, Bae decided to take time off from film, saying: “I never lived even once without having anything to do. The moment a film was presented to the press, 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 new start.”
During her hiatus from the big screen, Bae took up photography, much of which can be seen between her official blog and her published photo-essay books. She also continued to work on TV, starring in Country Princess and Rosemary. Bae finally stepped onto a theater stage in 2004, for 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.
She reunited with Bong Joon-ho in 2006’s The Host, which became the highest grossing film in South Korean box office history. For her role, she trained in archery for months that she was told if she really wanted, she had enough talent to make it at an amateur level. She then returned to television, through the series Someday and How to Meet a Perfect Neighbor.
After winning accolades for Air Doll, a 2009 film by Japanese director Hirokazu Koreeda about an inflatable sex doll that develops a soul and falls in love, Bae made back-to-back TV series in 2010, playing a high school teacher in Master of Study, and a night club Singer in weekend drama Gloria.
Her 2012 sports film As One was based on the true story of the world table Tennis championship held in Chiba, Japan in 1991 where North Korean player Ri Bun-hui and South Korean player Hyun Jung-hwa overcame their difficulties and came together to defeat the unbeatable Chinese team. Bae and co-star Ha Ji-won were trained by Hyun herself, and Bae learned to play left-handed like Ri. Afterwards she made a brief appearance in the science fiction film Doomsday Book.
Bae made her English-language, Hollywood debut in Cloud Atlas, as Sonmi~451, a clone in dystopian Korea. 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 unanimously praised by critics.
Back in Korea, Bae next starred in the 2014 film Dohee-ya (released internationally as A Girl at My Door), directed by July Jung and produced by Lee Chang-dong. 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. The film premiered in the Un Certain Regard section of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and Bae later won Best Actress at the Asian Film Awards.
In 2015, she reteamed with the Wachowskis for their space opera Jupiter Ascending, in which she played a small supporting role as a bounty hunter.
Bae then began filming Sense8, an American science fiction series created by the Wachowskis (in Bae’s third collaboration with them) and co-written by J. Michael Straczynski. Eight strangers from different cultures and parts of the world share a violent psychic vision and suddenly find themselves telepathically connected. Sense8 began streaming on Netflix in 2015.