Who Were the Top Bread-Winning Actors of 2015?

LAtte, Sept. 4, 2015, 11:48 a.m.

'Ilgan Sports' has revealed the top highest paid Korean Drama actors in 2015, previously releasing the top highest paid actresses of this year. Although it seems that the pay gap between actors and actresses may not be very significant, compared to the numbers in the past, the truth is male actors tend to achieve greater popularity with fans, which are mainly female.

This makes sense because it seems that the greater population of K-drama viewers are women. Along with the achievement of popularity through K-dramas come CF offers and overseas fanmeeting opportunities that bring in top dollar for the actors. This is in addition to the large sum they earn through the K-drama itself!

Arranged into four categories, here are the top money-makers amongst Korea's actors who are bringing in that bacon!

"High Rollers"

Kim Soo Hyun and Hyun Bin topped the list as the highest paid actors, earning 100 million KRW (an estimated $83,900 USD) per episode in 2015. Kim Soo Hyun is a no-brainer, having starred in multiple hits such as 'The Moon Embraces the Sun', 'My Love From the Stars', and 'Producer', receiving the highest from 'My Love from the Stars'. Although Kim Soo Hyun is one of the top sought-after actors, he didn't raise his rates for his following drama 'Producer' due to his consideration for the writer Park Ji Eun, whom he's worked with before.

Before enlisting in the military for his mandatory service, Hyun Bin received great praise and big bucks for his popular drama 'Secret Garden', starring alongside Ha Ji Won. Following his discharge, the actor took on the lead role in 'Hyde, Jekyll, Me' as his comeback project. Because of his success with his previous drama, Hyun Bin was able to charge a higher fee for his comeback. An entertainment insider revealed, "I'm not sure how well his next project will do, but his earnings for 'Hyde, Jekyll, Me' was his peak!"

"Kings of Hallyu"

Song Joong Ki and Lee Jong Suk's earning rates are at 60 million KRW, which is an estimated $50,300 USD. Song Joong Ki is set to appear in 'Descendants of the Sun' following his recent discharge from the army.

Meanwhile, Yoo Ah In, Lee Min Ho, and Lee Seung Gi charge 70 million KRW (approximately $58,700 USD) per individual episode.

Veteran actors So Ji Sub and Jo In Sung earned the highest in this category, with So Ji Sub earning 80 million KRW (an estimated $61,700 USD) per episode for his latest dramas 'Phantom' and 'Master's Sun', while Jo In Sung received his personal highest rates for 'That Winter the Wind Blows'.

"Rising Stars"

Kim Woo Bin, Joo Won, and Ji Chang Wook, who can be considered Hallyu stars in their own rights, earn 50 million KRW, which is an estimated $42,000 USD, per episode in a drama. One director commented, "I would want to cast them no matter what, even if it meant giving them a blank check!" These actors are extremely loved in Korea, with their popularity only growing across other countries as well. Their increasing popularity will surely bring in more cash flow for the actors in the future, however, they must all establish their own identities within the industry before leaving for their mandatory military service to ensure that fans will anticipate their return!

"Idol Actors"

Idols Park Hyung Sik from ZE:A, BTOB's Yook Sung Jae, and former MBLAQ member Lee Joon round out the bottom of this list, each making about $10 million KRW (approximately $8,400 USD) per episode. Park Hyung Sik has had his taste of popularity with the great success of his recent drama 'High Society', while Yook Sung Jae is considered a super rookie that's quickly catching the attention of viewers. Yook Sungjae is confirmed to be the male lead for the upcoming drama 'Village'. Perhaps this will be his breakout role?

Many idol actors are unable to charge higher rates for dramas, despite their popularity. A production company insider disclosed, "Unless the actor is extremely popular and established like [missA's] Suzy or [Girls' Generation's] YoonA, it's difficult to receive high earnings. Due to the negative stereotype of idol-turned-actors, idols cannot really propose a high asking price."

Did your favorite actor(s) make the cut? Who do you think will supercede their earnings next year?

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