Soo-Ae was born on July 25, 1980. Her immediate family consists of her parents and one younger brother. In an interview on MBC TV program "Muryopak Dosa" (September 16, 2009), Soo-Ae mentioned her father worked as a shoe repairman when she was growing up. Because of this, her family worried about the perception of her father's low paying job might have on Soo-Ae's acting career. However, Soo-Ae did not worry about her father's job or feel any type of embarrassment. Her family also opposed Soo-Ae's wishes to act initially, due to Soo-Ae's introspective personality. As the elder daughter in a family of limited means, she received permission to pursue acting under the condition that she would quit once she earned 30 million Won ($27,000 USD).
Before acting, Soo-Ae was a runner for her school's track & field team. After graduating from Gyeonggi Girls' Commercial High School, Soo-Ae along with friends made a 6 month contract with a management company. Interesting enough, Soo-Ae and her friends did not receive money, but rather paid 350,00 won to the their management company. She went through auditions and first received a job as a model for undergarments. She liked modeling, but the resulting pictures did not look good.
At this point, Soo-Ae wanted to be a singer and practiced with her friends. Soo-Ae took the part of a rapper as they practiced for 6 months. Without ever releasing an album, the group disbanded. During this time, a well known manager recommended to Soo-Ae to pursue acting. In 2001, Soo-Ae started to pursue acting.
In her early acting career people nicknamed Soo-Ae "little Jung Yoon-Hee" due to similarities in appearance. Jung Yoon-Hee was a popular actress from the 1980's who was known for her glamorous look.
In 2002, Soo-Ae made her acting debut in the 1 episode MBC drama "Beseuteu Geukjang Jjak Sarang" ("Best Theater: One Sided Love"). Soo-Ae was then cast for the main female lead in dramas "Merry Go Round," "Love Letter" and "April Kiss". Through these dramas Soo-Ae picked up the image of an actress with a graceful personality. In 2004, she made her feature film debut in the film "A Family". Soo-Ae's character in "A Family" was Jung-Eun, a tough young woman recently released from prison for theft. Her character made a marked departure from the graceful woman she played in earlier TV dramas.
In 2006, Soo-Ae performed in her third film "Once in a Summer" opposite actor Lee Byung-Hun. Soo-Ae mentioned on the MBC TV Show "Muryopakdosa" that during this time she wasn't very confident and, consequently, did not open up to other people. Furthermore, Lee Byung-Hun was an attractive actor, so Soo-Ae kept even more distance to not fall under his charm. More recently, Soo-Ae has become more confident and worked comfortably with leading men like Cho Seung-Woo in "The Sword With No Name".
In 2008, Soo-Ae acted in the film "Sunny". During the filming, she had an unforgettable experience. Director Lee Jun-Ik told Soo-Ae that her acting did not seem real. Soo-Ae then drank 1/3rd of a bottle of whiskey, while director Lee Jun-Ik drank the other 2/3rd. They then filmed her scene while Soo-Ae was drunk.
Prior to the filming of "Sunny," Soo-Ae was more of a loner who kept to herself. She felt responsible for anything she said in public and also afraid of being hurt. Thanks to director Lee Jun-Ik, Soo-Ae began to change. She also picked up the idea that it is ok to try various things.
Soo-Ae then picked up the "Best Actress" award for her performance in "Sunny" at the 46th Daejong Film Awards. In the 2010, Soo-Ae took on the role of a radio show host who discovers that her daughter has been kidnapped while live on air in the film "Midnight F.M.". During filming Soo-Ae found it difficult to run in high heels constantly and also to keep the mental tension needed for her role for the 6 months of filming.
With "Midnight F.M." Soo-Ae won the best actress award, along with co-winner Yun Jeong-Hee for "Poetry", at the 2010 (31th) Blue Dragon Film Awards. Soo-Ae was stunned to have won and when her name was called she could not think of anything. In an interview with Sports Chosun, she mentioned that the day before the award ceremony she flew from New Zealand to South Korea. During the flight she fell asleep and had a dream of two puppies who defecated in two places. Although she didn't think anything of it until after the award ceremony, perhaps her dream forecasted what was awaiting for her in Korea.
In 2010, Soo-Ae was cast as the female lead in the high profile SBS drama series "Athena: Goddess of War".