The Korean Entertainment industry is one of the fastest-growing entertainment sectors with the most active markets, owing to the popularity of the movie-going culture and the development of multiplexes. Over the past few years, the popularity of K-pop, Korean dramas and movies have risen explosively. Considering its growing demand, it should not be surprising to say how impressive the earnings must be, especially for the actors with huge fan followings. Here’s a list of the top ten Korean actors who are currently earning the most in the K-drama atmosphere. Go through it if you wish to check whether your favourite is on the list.
Despite having a chocolate boy appearance, the recently turned 32-year old actor Lee Jong-suk has given us a number of mystery-thriller series and movies over the period of ten years including ‘While You were Sleeping,’ ‘W— Two Worlds’ and ‘Pinocchio’. Despite having a fan following of more than 20M on Instagram, it’s doubtful if people are aware that back in 2005, Lee Jong-suk used to be a runway model at Seoul Fashion Week, and later, even became a K-pop trainee before making an acting debut in 2010. The actor is reportedly estimated to earn a sum of US$50,000 per episode. However, this figure is from the year 2019, during the release of his to-date last K-drama, ‘Romance is a Bonus Book’. He is going to make a comeback with the TV series, ‘Big Mouth’ with Im Yoo Ah in 2022.
After making his debut with the 2010 K-drama, ‘Sungkyunkwan Scandal’ with Park Yoo Chun and Park Min Young as the leads, Yoo Ah-in has come a long way, playing a diverse spectrum of characters in both the television and film industry. This 34-year-old actor has amazed us with his remarkable choice of projects like ‘Chicago Typewriter,’ ‘Six Flying Dragons’ and ‘Alive’. No wonder, he charges a sum of approximately 59,000 USD per episode for his new shows. He is currently focusing on leading several movies including ‘The Match,’ ‘Seoul Vibe,’ ‘High Five,’ and ‘Jeon Ram’.
Actor Lee Seung-gi made his acting debut back in the year 2006 with KBS’s weekend drama titled, ‘The Infamous Chil Sisters’ and gradually stepped into the era of fame in various parts of Asia. He was featured in popular series including ‘Brilliant Legacy,’ ‘Vagabond,’ ‘My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho’. His career as an actor, singer and host has let him be included in Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list multiple times and even earned him the title of Triple Threat entertainer.
At present, he earns around 59,000 USD per drama episode or a whopping 70 million Korean won. His recent sci-fi thriller series, ‘Mouse’ has been nominated in European Mania Festival 2021 and is the only Korean show to do that among nineteen others.
This South Korean actor, singer, and model who had first gained recognition from his 2010 K-drama series ‘Smile Again’ charges almost US$67,000 per episode or 77 million Korean won after giving back to back hits last year with ‘Lovestruck in the City’ and ‘Backstreet Rookie’. He has acted in several series and films over the years, known especially for his action and thriller sequences in ‘Healer’ and ‘K2’. He has a huge number of fan following both inside and outside Korea, and currently has over 17M people following him on Instagram. His upcoming projects include ‘Mr Right’ with Wang Xiao Chen; ‘The Sound Of Magic’ with Choi Sung-eun, and Hwang In-youp; and ‘Tell Me Your Wish’ with Choi Soo Young.
Actor Song Joong Ki’s international popularity had reached the sky after he delivered a solid performance in 2016’s K-drama, ‘Descendants of the Sun’ as Captain Yi Shi Jin and since then, he hasn’t experienced any downfall. In spite of going through a lot of ups and downs in his personal life, the actor has never failed to amaze the spectators with his charming looks, personality and performance. With his latest superhit series, ‘Vincenzo’ and ‘Arthdal Chronicles,’ Song Joong-ki has been reported to charge a whopping amount of almost US$70,000 or 80 million won per episode in 2021. He has bagged lead roles in the upcoming K-dramas, ‘The Youngest Son of a Conglomerate’ and ‘Arthdal Chronicles 2’ in his kitty.
5. Lee Min-ho
Does he even need any introduction? It won’t be wrong to say that Lee Min-ho is one of the first actors who made the Korean entertainment industry famous outside the land. After getting a big break from the 2009 K-drama, ‘Boys Over Flowers,’ this hallyu star appeared in various series like ‘The Hiers,’ ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea,’ ‘City Hunter,’ ‘The King Eternal Monarch’ which went on to help him seal his stature as one of the most wanted-leading men. Lee Min-ho has more than 26M fans following him on Instagram, making him the most-followed South Korean actor. He is currently one of the highest-paid Korean actors earning around 84,000 USD per episode.
4. Jo In-sung
Best known for his roles in series like ‘What Happened in Bali,’ ‘It’s Okay, That’s Love,’ ‘That Winter, the Wind Blows,’ and movies like ‘The King,’ and ‘A Dirty Carnival,’ Jo In-sung is one of the most popular Asian actors who have been giving top-notch performances throughout his acting career. He began his career as a model for the clothing brand named, ‘Ziozia’ in 1998 and later debuted through the MBC sitcom ‘Jump’ the year after. The actor charges around 89,000 USD or 100 million Korean Won per drama episode and is soon going to appear in a leading role for an action-mystery series named, ‘Moving’ with Han Hyo Joo.
3. So Ji-sub
One of the most celebrated South Korean actors, So Ji-sub has not only made a contribution in the field of acting, but he is also a renowned author and rapper. He entered into the field of acting in 1995 with a sitcom named, ‘Three Guys and Three Girls’ and continued to act in a variety of television series till the early 2000s till he got his first big break through the second lead role in the 2002 TV show, ‘Glass Slippers’. He has given us several hit series including ‘Master’s Sun,’ ‘Oh My Venus,’ and ‘What Happened in Bali’. For every episode of a drama, the actor charges an amount of 90,000 USD or 105 million Korean won approximately. He is currently working on the law thriller series, ‘Doctor Lawyer,’ and the mystery-thriller movie, ‘Confession’.
2. Hyun Bin
Another hallyu star who came into the limelight after the release of his 2005 rom-com TV drama ‘My Name is Kim Sam-soon,’ Hyun Bin has been a leading part of several successful movies and shows including ‘Secret Garden,’ and ‘Memories of the Alhambra’ which helped him get his grip in South Korea. However, with the release of his recent military rom-com ‘Crash Landing on You,’ with Son Ye Jin, his popularity expanded by leaps and bounds, bringing him into the international spotlight. He currently charges an amount of 113,000 USD per episode, thus grabbing the second spot on this list. His upcoming movie project, ‘Confidential Assignment 2: International’ with Yoo Hae Jin and Im Yoon Ah is an action-thriller comedy.
1. Kim Soo-hyun
The paycheck value of actor Kim Soo-hyun hit the sky after getting discharged from his compulsory military service. He made his acting debut in 2007 with the family sitcom named, ‘Kimchi Cheese Smile’ and went on to establish himself as one of the most sought-after Korean actors with shows like ‘Dream High,’ ‘Moon Embracing the Sun,’ ‘My Love from Another Star’ and his recent superhit K-drama, ‘It’s Okay to Not be Okay’ with Seo Yea Ji. He has even delivered top-grossing movies like ‘The Thieves’ and ‘Secretly Greatly’. It has been confirmed that the actor is going to charge a whopping amount of around 440,000 USD per episode for his upcoming TV series, ‘One Ordinary Day’ with Cha Seong Won. In 2013, he had the fourth highest Forbes Korea energy superstar record while in 2015, he ranked second on the Forbes record.
Park Seo Joon
One of the most renowned and beloved Korean actors, Park Seo Joon had made his acting debut back in 2011 and gained a lot of recognition after the release of ‘Kill Me, Heal Me’ and ‘She was Pretty’ in the same year, after which, his popularity had no bounds. He has been the leading man in several series after that, including, ‘Hwarang,’ ‘Fight for my Way,’ ‘What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim’ and ‘Itaewon Class,’ and movies like ‘Midnight Runners’. Back during 2015, he used to charge an amount of 25,000 USD per episode. Unfortunately, his current net worth or the amount he charges per episode for a series is absolutely unknown, because of which, we cannot predict a perfect figure.
However, judging from his successful projects in the last few years as well as the brand endorsements, it will be safe to say that he is already one of the highest-paid Korean actors. Adding him onto this list was inevitable. He has a fan following of over 19M on Instagram and has even been cast in a new Marvel movie, along with two other Korean movies.