Top Paid K-Drama Celebrity
By Hiranmayi Awli Mohanan
Korean dramas or K-dramas have won the hearts of viewers and become a worldwide phenomenon for their talented cast, engaging plots and beautiful settings. They are both addictive and amazing with plot twists that can go from sappy in one minute to heartbreaking in the next. It’s variety like these that keep viewers coming back for more. From veteran actors to new Hallyu heartthrobs, we list Korea’s highest-paid TV actors based on estimated earnings and the dramas that made them popular.
Song Joong-Ki $170,000
Song Joong-Ki rose to fame through the 2010 historical coming-of-age drama Sungkyunkwan Scandal and the variety show Running Man as one of the original cast members. Since then, he gained widespread popularity with the series, Descendants of the Sun. His recent hit Vicenzo earned Joong-Ki approximately US$170,000 per episode. Known for his perfect comic timing and diverse spectrum of roles, the actor will next be seen in the film Bogota. With a total net worth of $5 million, he is considered one of the richest actors in Korea.
Kim Soo-Hyun $600,000 per episode
Kim Soo Hyun’s name resonates with almost all K-drama fans for his successful portrayal of characters in dramas such as My Love From The Star and It’s Okay Not To Be Okay. The 33-year-old actor saw his fame skyrocket upon his discharge from the army. Not only has he won the hearts of many, Soo Hyun has snagged various awards for his roles and is also the king of commercial films. .
Jun Ji-Hyun $120,000 per episode
The Korean starlet is not just a pretty face. Her breakout role in 2001’s My Sassy Girl catapulted her to fame and helped place K-entertainment on the world map and earned her first Grand Bell Award for Best Actress. Popularly known as Gianna Jun, the 39-year-old actress is one of the highest-paid female Korean actresses and deservedly so. Her inherent talent for acting is portrayed through her cameo in popular period horror thriller, Kingdom and the female lead in successful dramas such as My Love From the Star and Legend of the Blue Sea. She will next be seen in a drama entitled Jirisan, depicting the story of rangers of Jirisan National Park who climb through mysterious and unexplored regions of the mountain to rescue lost trekkers.
Hyun Bin $113,000 per episode
Handsome Hyun Bin oppa, K-drama’s original hunk, gained instant recognition for the popular series My Lovely Sam Soon. However, it was the more recent Crash Landing On You series, which catapulted him to soaring popularity and into our hearts. Hyun Bin’s acclaimed series also include Secret Garden and Memories of the Alhambra. With his current net worth at $14 million, this hunk collects a paycheck of around US$113,000 per episode. His much-awaited next movie is Bargaining — a Korean diplomat is dispatched to Afghanistan when a group of South Korean tourists is taken hostage by the Taliban.
So Ji-Sub $89,800
So Ji Sub, a veteran in the K-drama industry is also a household name in Korea. He gained immense popularity for his roles in What Happened in Bali, 2004 and I’m Sorry, I Love You, 2004. His recent successes were for The Master’s Sun in 2013 and Oh My Venus in 2015. His upcoming project is dubbed Dr. Lawyer (a working title) — a heart-warming drama about a genius surgeon who becomes a medical malpractice lawyer after losing everything from a fabricated surgery.
Lee Min-Ho $84,000 per episode
While Hallyu stars Jo In-Sung and So Ji-Sub make more than Lee Min-Ho per episode, Min-Ho has captured more hearts, evident with his Instagram following of 26.3 million and counting. His worldwide popularity landed him the honour of being the first Korean actor to have a wax statue at Madame Tussauds museums in Asia. Since his debut role in Secret Campus in 2003, Min-Ho has gone on to make waves through his roles in various TV shows including Boys Over Flowers, City Hunter, The Heirs and more recently, The King: Eternal Monarch. He is also the face of many brands. The actor will be returning to the small screen with upcoming drama Pachinko, Apple TV+ series based on a novel in which he plays the antagonist.