Kim Young-ae began her acting career when she joined MBC's 3rd Open Recruitment in 1971. She made her acting debut in the TV police procedural Chief Inspector and subsequently built a prolific career in film and television. After she made her film debut in 1973's Long Live the Island Frogs, Kim became most active on the big screen in the 1970s and early 1980s, appearing in films such as Wang Sib Ri, My Hometown (also known as Wangsimni or A Bygone Romance, 1976), Suddenly at Midnight (1981), and Diary of King Yeonsan (1987). As she grew older, Kim transitioned to more television work. Among her notable television dramas are Queen Min (1973), Ilchul (or Sunrise, 1989), Magpie-in-law (1991), The Brothers' River (1996), Waves (1999), Go, Mom, Go! (2003), Hwang Jini (2006), Royal Family (2011), and Moon Embracing the Sun (2012). In 2009, she drew praise for her portrayal of a terminally ill yet headstrong mother who has a love-hate relationship with her daughter in the dramedy film Aeja (internationally known as Goodbye Mom).Another notable role was as a Busan restaurant owner whose son is arrested and tortured during the 1980s in The Attorney (2013). Kim later won Best Supporting Actress at the Grand Bell Awards and the Blue Dragon Film Awards for her performances.