'Hunt' director and 'Squid Game' star Lee Jung-jae said Korean cinema has been trying for a long time to figure out how to connect better with global audiences


  • Online streaming platforms helped K-dramas reach new audiences in different countries
  • Korean shows are available with subtitles on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and other platforms
  • Sought-after K-drama actors and actresses star in popular series and command a higher pay per episode

Over the years, K-drama has reached farther shores, alongside K-pop and K-beauty products. The presence of K-dramas on online streaming platforms has also helped them reach new audiences in different countries. Now, even if you don't know how to speak Korean or your local TV stations do not plan to air a dubbed version of popular Korean shows, you can watch them on Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+ and other platforms.

If you've noticed familiar faces in many of the popular dramas recently, that's probably because they are some of the most sought-after K-drama actors and actresses who command higher pay for their acting prowess, versatility and beauty. Here are some of the highest-paying K-drama actors and actresses today:


Park Bo-young

Park Bo-young starred in hits such as "Oh My Ghost (2015)," "Strong Girl Bong-Soon (2017)," "Abyss (2019)" and "Doom at Your Service (2021)." With her talents receiving awards for almost every role she plays, it's no wonder she is one of the highest-paid K-drama actresses in Korea. She reportedly earns $27,300 per episode. Her net worth is estimated to be around $3-5 million.


Gong Hyo-jin

With her net worth estimated to be around $5 million, Gong Hyo-jin is certainly one of the well-known names in K-drama for her performance caliber and her appeal. She has starred in "Sang Doo! Let's Go to School (2003)," "It's Okay, That's Love (2014)," "The Producers (2015)" and "When the Camellia Blooms (2019)." With her name often associated with successful shows, she is sometimes referred to as the "Queen of Ratings" and even won the "Best Couple Award" with co-star Kang Ha-neul for their performance in "When the Camellia Blooms." She reportedly earns $36,500 per episode.


Kim Tae-hee

Kim Tae-hee's net worth is estimated at $16 million, and she reportedly gets paid $37,000 per episode. One of the dream girls of K-drama, she has starred in "Stairway to Heaven (2003)," "Love Story in Harvard (2004)," "Iris (2009)," "My Princess (2011)," "Yong-pal (2015)" and "Hi Bye, Mama! (2020)." Now in her forties, she has continued to show her charm in her roles over the years. The graduate of Seoul National University also proves that she has both beauty and brains.


Ha Ji-won

Ha Ji-won's net worth is around $5 million. She has starred in hit shows "Damo (2003)," "Hwang Jini (2006)," "Empress Ki (2013)," "Something Happened in Bali (2004)," "Secret Garden (2010)" and "Hospital Ship (2017)." Though she made her acting debut as a villain, she proved that she can make it big by capturing the hearts of viewers and garnering as much attention as the main actresses. She has also starred alongside Hyun Bin, another highly-paid K-drama actor, in the hit show "Secret Garden" in 2010. The actress reportedly earns $45,000 per episode.


Choi Ji-woo

Choi Ji-woo has starred in some of the best K-dramas to reach international shores. Her net worth is around $15 million. She is reportedly paid $46,000 per episode. She has starred in "Winter Sonata (2002)," "Stairway to Heaven (2003)," "Second 20s (2015)," "7 First Kisses (2016-2017)" and more recently, "Sh**ting Stars (2022)." Her standout beauty and unparalleled acting chops made her one of the highest-paid actresses in Korea and earned her awards, such as a Baeksang Arts Award. She also made an appearance in the 2020 hit drama "Crash Landing on You."


Ji Chang-wook

With an estimated net worth of $12.5 million, Ji Chang-wook has made a name for himself in the K-drama sphere through roles in "Smile Again (2010-2011)," "Healer (2014-2015)," "The K2 (2016)," "Lovestruck in the City (2020-2021)" and "Suspicious Partner and The Sound of Magic (2022)." He has appeared in crime thrillers, fantasy romcoms and even historical dramas, proving that he is an all-rounder when it comes to acting. Not just that, he also contributes to the OST of some of his dramas. He is even considered to have one of the prettiest smiles in the business. He is reportedly paid $50,000 per episode.


Lee Jong-suk

Another versatile actor to grace K-dramas, Lee Jong-suk has an estimated net worth of $10 million and a reported fee of $50,000 per episode. He starred in hits such as "School 2013 (2012)," "Doctor Stranger (2014)," "Pinocchio (2014)," "W (2016)," "Romance Is a Bonus Book (2019)" and "Big Mouth (2022)." Lee Jong-suk has an interesting background, having trained to become a K-pop idol under SM Entertainment. He has also announced his relationship with singer and actress IU, his long-time friend.


Yoo Ah-in

As one of the most in-demand K-drama actors today, Yoo Ah-in has an estimated net worth of $12 million. He has appeared in "Sungkyungkwan Scandal (2010)," "Six Flying Dragons (2015-2016)," "Burning (2018)," "Voice of Silence (2020)" and "Hellbound (2021)," with a reported fee of $59,000 per episode. He has a charming personality that keeps his fans engaged, and he is also a versatile actor who can play any role with flying colors. His role in the award-winning film "Burning" even earned him international attention, while the Netflix hit "Hellbound" further increased his popularity. However, the actor recently made headlines after testing positive for substances deemed illegal in Korea. He has since been dropped from "Hellbound" and his other projects amid a police investigation.


Lee Seung-gi

Lee Seung-gi's estimated net worth is $7 million, with his fee per episode reportedly being $59,000. He has starred in a variety of K-dramas showcasing his versatile acting, from "Brilliant Legacy (2009)" to "My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (2010)," "A Korean Odyssey (2017-2018)," "Vagabond (2019)" and "Mouse (2021)." For "Vagabond," he starred alongside another popular K-drama actress, Bae Suzy. His innocent look and funny personality add to his charm, and he has worked hard for his career by starting with supporting roles before landing lead roles. He also has a successful singing career.


So Ji-sub

Doctor Lawyer

So Ji-sub is one of the hardest-working actors in Korean dramas, with his roles spanning decades. His estimated net worth is around $24 million after starring in "I'm Sorry, I Love You (2004)," "Cain and Abel (2009)," "Oh My Venus (2015-2016)," "My Secret Terrius (2018)" and "Doctor Lawyer (2022)." He started his career as a jeans model before turning heads and gaining a loyal fanbase as a K-drama actor. He is also known for his philanthropic efforts, such as donating $59,000 to underprivileged kids to mark his marriage in 2020. His fee is reportedly around $67,000 per episode.


Jo In-sung

Another highly-paid actor who did not start as an actor is Jo In-sung. He started as a model for the clothing brand Ziozia in 1998 before landing a role in a Korean teen drama. Jo In-sung starred alongside another highly-paid actress, Ha Ji-won, for the 2004 hit "Something Happened in Bali." From there, his star power continued to grow. His estimated net worth is $12 million, with a reported $67,000 fee per episode. He has also starred in "Spring Day (2005)," "That Winter, the Wind Blows (2013)" and "It's Okay, That's Love (2014)." He is one of the Korean drama actors who show that their talent grows over time. With his stellar acting, many are wondering what role he will play next, as he has not done a Korean drama since 2016.


Lee Min-ho

Lee Min-ho is one of the most unforgettable names in K-drama after playing the iconic role of Go Jun-pyo in the Korean adaptation of "Boys Over Flowers" in 2009. With his net worth estimated at $13 million, he has also starred in "City Hunter (2011)," "The Heirs (2013)," "The King: Eternal Monarch (2020)" and "Pachinko (2022)," which aired on Apple TV+. "Pachinko" is based on the novel by Korean-American novelist Min Jin-lee. His involvement in the project made entertainment news, with his fee per episode reportedly being around $80,000 before its release.


Go Hyun-jung

Reflection of You

The former Miss Korea runner-up was best known for her role in "Sandglass (1995)," after which she retired from the industry to marry into a rich business family. She returned to the entertainment business in 2003 after her divorce. Her second foray into K-drama land earned her memorable roles in "Queen Seondeok (2009)" and "Daemul (2010)," but one of her most successful roles to date is in "Reflection of You" in 2021, alongside actress Shin Hyun-bin. She reportedly earned $85,000 per episode. her net worth is estimated to be at $5 million.


Hyun Bin

Crash Landing on You
Studio Dragon

"Secret Garden" stars Ha Ji-won and Hyun Bin are among the highest-paid K-drama actors and actresses today. Hyun Bin has also starred in "A Millionaire's First Love (2006)," "Late Autumn (2010)," "Confidential Assignment (2017)," "Hyde Jekyll, Me (2015)," "Memories of the Alhambra (2018-2019)," "Confidential Assignment 2: International (2022)" and the hit series "Crash Landing on You (2019-2020)." His estimated net worth is around $14 million, with his per-episode fee estimated at over $113,000 catapulted by the success of "Crash Landing on You." His fee per episode was around $27,000 around the time of "Secret Garden." "Crash Landing on You" also sparked real-life romance between him and his co-star Son Ye-jin, whom he married in March 2022.


Jun Ji-hyun

Studio Dragon

Jun Ji-hyun, who also goes by her English name Gianna Jun, starred in "My Love from the Star (2013 - 2014)," "The Legend of the Blue Sea (2016 - 2017)," "Kingdom: Ashin of the North (2020-2021)" and "Jirisan (2021)." She is also one of the most recognizable faces of K-drama overseas after bringing the hit "My Sassy Girl" to a bigger stage. She won her first Grand Bell Award for Best Actress for her role. Some of the highest-paid K-Drama actors and actresses become luxury brand ambassadors for their popularity, and Jun Ji-hyun is no exemption. She is the first Korean ambassador of the luxury fashion label Alexander McQueen. Jun Ji-hyun's estimated net worth is around $10 million and her fee per episode is $160,000.


Lee Young-ae

My ID Is Gangnam Beauty

Lee Young-ae is another K-drama actress who has contributed to bringing shows to international fans. She starred in "Jewel in the Palace (2003)," one of the shows that sparked interest in K-dramas across Asia, "Saimdang, Memoir of Colors (2017)" and "Inspector Koo (2021)." Her international fame did not wane even when she took a 12-year break from acting. Her estimated net worth is around $18 million while her fee per episode is also around $160,000, putting her in a triple tie with Jun Ji-hyun and Song Hye-kyo. She also starred in films such as "Joint Security Area (2000)," "One Fine Spring Day (2001)" and "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005)," which earned her a Grand Bell Award and a Blue Dragon Film Award.


Song Hye-kyo

Another highly-paid K-drama star who has been tied to a well-loved real-life pairing is Song Hye-kyo. She was married to one of the highest-paid K-drama actors, Song Joong-ki, after starring together in the hit series "Descendants of the Sun." They were famously dubbed the SongSong couple and were married from 2017 to 2019. Song Hye-kyo's estimated net worth is $11 million, with her fee per episode being around $160,000. She also starred in "Autumn in My Heart (2000)," "Full House (2004)," "That Winter, the Wind Blows (2013)" and the hit Netflix series "The Glory (2022-2023)."


Song Joong-ki

The other half of the famous SongSong couple, Song Joong-ki is also one of the highest-paid K-drama actors today, with a fee of around $170,000 per episode. His estimated net worth is around $5 million. Song Joong-ki stared in "Sungkyunkwan Scandal (2010)," "A Werewolf Boy (2012)," "The Innocent Man (2012)," "Descendants of the Sun (2016)," "Arthdal Chronicles (2019)," "Vincenzo (2021)" and "Reborn Rich (2022)." He was also in the Netflix film "Space Sweepers." Song Joong-ki's clean image and looks appeal to fans locally and internationally.


Lee Jung-jae

If you've watched the popular 2021 Netflix show "Squid Game," you won't be surprised to find out that Lee Jung-jae is one of the highest-paid K-drama actors today. He has a long list of movies under his name, but he also shows his great performance on the small screen. He became the first Korean to win best actor at the Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors Guild Awards and the Primetime Emmy Awards for his role in "Squid Game," which has an upcoming second season. The role reportedly earned him $248,000 per episode. In 2022, Lee Jung-jae also made his directorial debut in the movie "Hunt." His net worth is around $12 million.


Kim Soo-hyun

One of the most recognizable K-drama faces today is the highest-paid actor in the industry. Kim Soo-hyun, who has two Grand Bell Awards under his belt, starred in "One Ordinary Day," the Korean remake of BBC's "Criminal Justice" in 2021. For the project, he reportedly earned $423,000 per episode. He also starred in "Kimchi Cheese Smile (2007)," "Dream High (2011 - 2012)," "Moon Embracing the Sun (2012)" and "My Love from the Star (2013-2014)." His film credits include "The Thieves (2012)" and "Secretly, Greatly (2013)." Kim Soo-hyun also made a cameo in the hit dramas "Hotel del Luna" and "Crash Landing on You." He also starred in "It's Okay to Not Be Okay" in 2020, which paid him $155,000 per episode. His net worth is around $25 million.