Now a household name in the Korean entertainment industry, Kim Tae-Ri’s humble beginnings may come as a shock to many for the actress, who has an impressive resume for just a seven-year career. While technically, she hasn’t been acting for just 7 years, her mainstream film debut was in 2016, and she was clearly set up for success right from the start. The 33-year-old actress, who is known for looking youthful and even played a 21-year-old just last year, discovered her love for acting back in college. She began as a theatre actress in her second year of university and starred in a couple of music videos thereafter. She auditioned with over 1500 other women to play the important role of an orphan in acclaimed director Park Chan Wook’s erotic thriller The Handmaiden. She hasn’t looked back since, won many awards for the role, and proved her place in the industry. Maybe because she picks her own roles, they’re quite limited, but she’s always a scene-stealer. This list doesn’t cover all her work, but we’d recommend checking out her entire filmography anyway.
6. Space Sweepers
This is a dystopian science fiction movie starring Song Jong-Ki on Netflix, so you may have heard of it, but what you may not know is that a lot of Tae-Ri’s scenes have been cut out of this film. While it’s a mostly forgettable film as a whole, Kim Tae-Ri as the pirate captain is really entertaining, and you’ll notice a pattern of uniqueness in all her roles that do not fit into any boxes and are all over the place. Captain Jang is definitely one of her more outgoing roles, and she does an excellent job at being suave. The actress is brash, confident, and aggressive in this role, and she does an excellent job at doing all of that while making it look effortless and natural.
5. Little Forest
If you’ve heard of the book My Year Of Rest And Relaxation, then Little Forest may sound familiar. Of course, they’re both set in entirely different backgrounds, but clearly, there’s something interesting about a woman who has lost all interest in mundane city life. Kim Tae-Ri’s natural beauty shines in this film, where she moves back to her hometown and spends time with her old friends, living in the most wholesome, natural way possible. Some of the food scenes in this film, though, are really delectable and make you want to eat flowers too. Kim Tae-Ri is a delight as always, and she’s a calming presence in this film. Her chemistry with actors Ryu Jun-Yeol and Jin Ki-Joo is fantastic, and you truly believe they’ve been long-term friends. There’s something very healing about this film, and a lot of people may think nothing is really happening, but it’s perfect for those who want to unwind and feel calm. It’s like watching a longer version of those YouTube healing vlogs but with a plot and a protagonist.
4. Mt. Sunshine
This is only at number 4 because everything else on this list is just better. Mr. Sunshine was Tae-Ri’s TV debut, and no surprise to anyone, she won everyone over. Starring next to veteran actor Lee Byung-Hun and other popular actors such as Yoo Yeon-Seok, Tae-Ri stood her ground and made an impressive debut. Lee Byun-Hun himself stated that she never gave the impression of a rookie, although we’d like to say that after doing a Park Chan-Wook film, could she still be considered a rookie? The actress plays a wealthy woman from a noble family living in the Joseon era. She carries herself with great dignity and confidence (unlike her previous roles). As always, she never misses a beat.
3. Twenty-Five, Twenty-One
The show that broke hearts all over the world in the year 2022, Twenty-Five, Twenty-One tells a simple story of dreaming big and making sacrifices to achieve your goals. Then 32, Tae-Ri played a 21-year-old college student and did an impeccable job. It was her first lead role in awhile, and Na Hee-Do will definitely be etched in our brains for many years to come. She’s infuriating, lovable, hard-working, and youthful in this role that feels like it was written for her. Although a lot of people were not satisfied by the end of the series, she still garnered a lot of praise throughout the season, and people would wait each week to see what would happen next.
The latest show she’s started in, Revenant, is a horror mystery that follows a possessed woman. Tae-Ri is immaculate in her portrait of a woman who has many shades; she’s scary, she’s beautiful, she’s enchanting, and there’s so much this role demands, and she does it all effortlessly. The 12-episode show is nail-biting and keeps you wondering from start to finish. Tae-Ri outshines her previous work and arguably delivers her best performance yet. Additionally, the spark she shares with young actor Hong Kyung is also amazing, and you just wish the show didn’t end so soon. We just hope we get to see the actress’s versatility further down the line.
1. The Handmaiden
While it so happens to be her first big role ever, The Handmaiden still remains her best work yet. Personally, both Revenant and The Handmaiden are at the same level because they demand very different skills, and she shines through in both. Still, since this is a ranked list, we’ve put this one first. Everyone knows director Park Chan-Wook’s work worldwide, and Tae-Ri auditioned for this movie for the experience of it. She thought she could never be good enough for such a great director, but she ended up being the chosen one. Additionally, it was brave to step up and play a role in a homosexual adult film in the Korean industry, especially with no name. In the end, it became a powerful move and launched her career. She remains the standout character of the film, and the plot depends on her ability to manipulate the audience to make such an impact.
It’s a shame that her work is so limited in numbers, but the actress follows her heart and chooses roles that she thinks are impactful for the world. We’re extremely excited to see what she picks next; until then, we’ll be rewatching these films and shows.