Korean dramas are a rage in South East Asian countries including Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines and India. Thanks to the popularity of Kdramas on online streaming networks including Netflix, Ji Chang Wook, Lee Min Ho, Kim So Hyun and Hyun Bin are all well known in western countries too.
The recently concluded Lee Min Ho starrer The King Eternal Monarch, ongoing dramas Ji Chang Wook starrer Backstreet Rookie and Kim Soo Hyun starrer It's Okay to Not Be Okay are examples of the far and wide reach of Korean dramas.
In 2017, Lee Byung Hun was the highest paid Korean actor for his drama Mr Sunshine. He received 150m KRW ($125,000) per episode. But in 2020 with the popularity of actors growing multifold, the per episode payment of actors has increased considerably. According to Koreaboo, Kim Soo Hyun is the highest paid actor in the Korean drama industry and one of the most popular actors Lee Min Ho is in the fifth place. Here is a list of top 10 paid Kdrama actors.
1. Kim Soo Hyun
Popularity-wise, Ji Chang Wook tops the list of actors. But as per payment, Kim Soo Hyun is paid the highest among Korean actors. Currently he is acting as the lead opposite Seo Ye Ji in the drama It's Okay to Not Be Okay and is being paid around ₩200m ($165,000) per episode.
2. Hyun Bin
Hyun Bin became a rage after his drama Crash Landing on You opposite Son Ye Jin was released in December 2019. He got paid around ₩100m ($84,000) per episode of Crash Landing on You where he played a North Korean army captain. He made a total of $1.35m with 16 episodes of the drama. Currently, he is busy with shooting of his movie Bargaining.
3. So Ji Sub
So Ji Sub's latest project was My Secret Terrius released in 2018. He charged around ₩80m ($67,000) per episode of the drama. As the drama had 32 episodes, he had earned $2.15m with the drama.
4. Jo In Sung
Jo In Sung has not been around in Kdramas lately. His latest drama was SBS's It's Okay, That's Love that released in 2018. However, he is still the fourth highest paid actor who charges ₩80m ($67,000) per episode of drama. He had earned $1.1m from 16 episodes of his last drama in 2018.
5. Lee Min Ho
Lee Min Ho is currently the Korean actor having the largest number of followers on social media including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook post airing of his latest drama The King Eternal Monarch. The actor gets paid around ₩75m ($62,000) per episode. Thus he earned $990,000 with 16 episodes of the The King: Eternal Monarch series that he acted opposite Kim Go Eun.
6. Lee Seung Gi
The Twogether star Lee Seung Gi gets paid around ₩70m ($59,000) per episode of drama. His last drama was Vagabond opposite Bae Suzy. He had made $945,000 with 16 episodes of the drama. Currently, he is starring in the travel show Twogether with Thai actor Jasper Liu.
7. Yoo Ah In
The ALIVE actor Yoo Ah In gets paid around ₩70m ($59,000) per episode of a drama. His last drama Chicago Typewriter was released in 2017. With 16 episodes, the actor had earned $945,000. Currently he is basking in the success of his survival thriller film ALIVE, opposite Park Shin Hye.
8. Song Joong Ki
The Descendants of the Sun star Song Joong Ki charges ₩60m ($50,000) per episode. For his latest drama Arthdal Chronicles that had 18 episodes the actor was paid $900,000. The first season of fantasy drama Arthdal Chronicles was streamed in three parts. Currently, he is in talks to play the lead in the drama Vincenzo.
9. Lee Jong Suk
The While You Were Sleeping actor Lee Jong Suk reportedly charges around 60m KRW ($50,000) per episode. For his latest 16-episode drama Romance is a Bonus Book opposite Lee Na Young, Lee Jong Suk got paid $800,000.
10. Ji Chang Wook
Ji Chang Wook, who is starring opposite Kim Yoo Jung in the ongoing drama Backstreet Rookie, is being paid around 60m Korean Won ($50,000) per episode. With 16 episodes, Ji Chang Wook has earned $800,000 with this drama alone.