The film industry in South Korea (Hallyuwood) has now become one of the most popular entertainment industries in the world.
The rising popularity of South Korean dramas, films, shows on online streaming platforms like Netflix, Disney+, Prime Video, etc. has made our Korean celebs attain a different level of global popularity with some impressive earnings. And obviously, their fans always seem to wonder just how much our stars earn from these massive hits. So, if you’re also interested then scroll down to have a quick look.
List of Top 10 Highest Paid Korean Actresses in 2022
1. JUN JI HYUN
Winner of two Grand Bell Awards and a Daesang(Grand Prize) for her television drama roles, Jun Ji Hyun is the highest-paid actress in South Korea. Last year it was reported that the 40-year-old star scored 200 Million KRW per episode appearance fees, leaving her a cheque of US$2.7 million for a total of 16 episodes. She is well known for her appearance in Il Mare, Windstruck, The Thieves, Assassination, and The Berlin File.
Jun Ji Hyun aka Gianna Jun started off as a commercial model for Ecole Magazine in 1997 and later made her debut in the romantic film White Valentine in 1999. Gianna, however, rose to stardom with her 2001’s film My Sassy Girl, in which she starred opposite Police University star Chae Tae Hyun.
An ageless beauty, Ji-hyun is referred to as one of the “Troika (Tae-Hye-Ji)” by K-dramas fans along with Kim Tae-hee and Song Hye-kyo, being the most-viewed actress in South Korea.
The Legend of the Blue sea star turns heads with her fashion sense and every single product worn by our star actress has recorded groundbreaking sales all credit to her immense influence on K-dramas fans. She is currently endorsing more than 15 brands in Korea and was recently featured as Seo Yi-kang in the iQiyi original drama Jirisan.
2. SONG HYE KYO
Song Hye-kyo was ranked 6th in Forbes’ Korean Powerful Celebrity list in 2018. The Brand Ambassador of a luxury brand like Chaumet, Fendi & Sulwhasoo, Song charges US$ 650k for a single endorsement on Instagram & approximately US$170k per drama episode.
Sunkyung Smart Model 1996, Song is best known for her role in All in, My Brilliant Life, Descendant of the Sun, and Now, We Are Breaking Up. In 2004, she gained her pan-Asian fan following with comedy romantic series Full House, becoming one of the best-known Korean Actress in Asia.
1981-born Hallyu star will make her come back on small-screen with her upcoming suspense drama The Glory, which is written by Kim Eun Sook.
3. LEE YOUNG AE
Veteran actress Lee Young-ae is making roughly US$91,000 per episode and is one of the richest Korean celebs with a net worth of US$40 million. Young-ae stepped into the entertainment industry as a commercial film model in 1991 and made a successful debut with K-drama How’s Your Husband?, for which she won the Best New Actress at the SBS Drama Awards in 1993.
Her critically acclaimed works include the enigmatic Lee Geum-ja in the crime thriller film Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and the outgoing and strong-willed Seo Jang-geum in historical television drama Dae Jang Geum, and more.
After a four-year-long absence from the screen, 50-year-old Lee Young-ae made her triumphant comeback as charming and witty insurance investigator ‘Koo Kyung-yi’ in the Netflix drama Inspector Koo.
4. GO HYUN JUNG
Another veteran actress Go Hyun-jung is among the handful of Korean celebs, who’re getting over 100 KRW per episode. Go Hyun-jung was the runner-up in Miss Korea 1989 pageant & made her debut in the 1990 K-drama Love on a Jujube Tree.
Her first notable appearance was in the 1995 SBS drama Sandglass, which was regarded as the highest-rated Korean drama in history(~70-90s). The 51-year-old actress announced her shocking retirement after her marriage with the vice-president of Shinsegae Group, Chung Yong-jin.
Hyun, however, made her comeback in Hallyu world with the 2005 melodrama Spring day after divorcing Korea Chaebol in 2003. Despite playing a supporting character, Lady Mishil, Go reclaimed her position in Korean Industry with the historical drama Queen Seondeok & became the highest paid Korean actress on TV.
Her critically acclaimed films and dramas include Dear My Friends, Return, and Miss Conspirator. After a two-year-long hiatus, she reappeared in JTBC Reflection of You in 2021, receiving pay of US$1.4 million for 16 episodes.
5. CHOI JI WOO
Choi Ji-woo was scouted by the Talent Agency, MBC in 1994 and made her debut in the entertainment world with the 1995 drama series War and Love. Though it wasn’t until 2009, when the actress got her breakthrough with the drama Star’s Lover, in which she received a hefty amount of ₩48 million/ episode, becoming the highest-paid Korean actress at that time. At present, The Suspicion Housekeeper star charges US$46K for a single drama episode.
Her other notable films and drama are Beautiful Days, Winter Sonata, Temptations, Twenty again, Women with a suitcase, and more. Choi Ji-woo will make a special appearance in the upcoming drama “Shooting Stars” starring Lee Sung-Kyung and Kim Young-dae.
6. HAI JI WON
Hai Ji-won (originally Jeon Hae-rim) is the fifth highest-paid Korean actress, who rakes in US$45K per episode in Korea. The 43-year-old Korean actress failed more than 100 auditions before finally making her acting debut in the teen drama New Generation Report: Adults Don’t Understand Us in 1996.
Hai Ji-won is popular for her appearance Damo, Empress Ki, melodrama Something Happened in Bali, The King 2 Hearts, and Hospital Ship. In 2014, she made her singing debut with a digital single Now in this place and later release a self-written piece ‘You Are Zoe’, which featured ZE: A’s Heechul.
Ha is pretty famous for her active humanitarian and social activities. Back in 2005, the Korean actress took a pledge to donate her cornea via the Organ Donation Center of Love. She is presently the Honorary Ambassador of Korean Brand & Entertainment Expo along with K-pop boy band WINNER in China, while the first Asian Women Ambassador for Operation Smile.
7. KIM TAE HEE
Ulsan-born actress, Kim Taw-hee first appeared in television and print advertisements. Despite being cast in a negative role, Kim gained the spotlight for her visuals and acting in the 2003 SBS drama Stairway to Heaven.
Her commercially successful Korean dramas include Love Story in Harvard, Iris, My Princess, Yong-pal, and Hi Bye, Mama!
Kim is considered to be one of the most beautiful celebrities by netizens and charges roughly around US$37k per episode. Her secret marriage with K-pop idol Rain in 2017 shocked the whole fandom since the duo rarely spotted together. The couple now shared two children and has recently purchased a US$2-million house in California (fueling the rumors about her Hollywood debut.)
8. GONG HYO JIN
“Queen of romantic comedies” Gong Hyo-jin stood at eighth position with a paycheck of US$36.5k/Episode. Gong Hyo-jin has been winning laurels for her performances on the small screen since her debut in 1999. Similar to our other stars, Gongvely (named by press 2009) began her career as a commercial model.
Her first lead role was in the 2003 television teen drama Sang Doo! Let’s Go to School, starring Rain, Hong Soo-hyun, Song Min-joo and Lee Dong-jun.
1980-born Gong was nominated for Daseng(Grand Prize) for her role in When the Camellia Blooms in 2021. Her other notably famous work includes Crush and Blush, Pasta, Don’t Dare to Dream, and The Producers.
Master’s Sun star will feature opposite ‘Boys Over Flowers’ actor Lee Min-ho in Seo Sook Hyang’s upcoming Sci-fi drama ‘Ask the Star.’
9. PARK BO YOUNG
Scandal Makers star Park Bo-young sailed her journey with a short film called Equal during her middle school. Her official acting debut, however, was with rookie actor Lee Min-ho in the 2006 high school drama Secret Campus. She ranked nine in our list and takes more than US$27k for an Episode.
32-year-old Park Bo Young caught the attention of admirers in her comedy film Scandal Makers, for which she was rewarded with Best New Actress in multiple Awards Ceremony including Director’s Cut, Chunsa Film Art, Korean Association of Film Critic, and more.
She is well known for her playing the role of Do Bong-soon in the 2017 Korean drama titled Strong Girl Bong-soon, as well as A Werewolf Boy, On Your Wedding Day, Doom at Your Service, and Concrete Utopia.
After 15 years of her debut, Park opened her first SNS account on Instagram. She is currently in talks with the ‘All of us are dead’ director for an upcoming project titled ‘Morning Comes to Psychiatric Wards too.’ This series is based on the real-life experience of a Psychiatric nurse named Jung Shi-na.
10. SHIN MIN A
Last but not least the Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha actress Shin Min-a is one of the highest-paid as well as most in-demand commercial models in South Korea. She is currently endorsing luxury brands like Gucci, DIDIER DUBOT, Givenchy Beauty, The North Face, etc. and charges the talent fee of US$27k for a single episode of a Korean drama.
After appearing in various music videos for the k-pop boy band g.o.d., Shin Min-a made her first appearance on the small screen with SBS’s melodrama Beautiful Days in 2001. Though she made her breakthrough with 2010 rom-com My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, starring opposite Lee Seung-gi.
The 37-year-old actress was the first Asian model for the DIY project ad campaign for clothing brand Rag & bone. She is well known for playing versatile characters in television dramas like Arang and The Magistrate, Oh My Venus, Tomorrow With You, and Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha.
Her latest series Our Blues will premiere at 21:10 KST on tvN on April 9, 2022. The series would also be available on Netflix though only in selected regions.
So, this wraps up our list of the top 10 highest-paid actresses in South Korea. Who were you already expecting to be on this list? Or is there any famous/new face you hope to see on this list soon?