KEY POINTS

  • Kim Soo Hyun is the highest paid actor in South Korea
  • He earns about $165,000 per drama episode
  • The actor was discharged from military service in 2019

Kim Soo Hyun is the cash king among actors in South Korea with an estimated $165,000 salary per episode. 

Soo Hyun is the lead actor on the Korean drama “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay” that is showing on Netflix worldwide. It also stars Seo Ye-ji and Oh Jung-se. It is the first series that Soo Hyun featured as the lead male character after coming back from mandatory military service in 2019. The drama is tackling mental health issues and realities that are often considered taboo, but the main actor is not new to challenging roles.

In his past projects, Soo Hyun starred in “Dream High” and “Moon Embracing the Sun” and both went on to get high audience ratings, the latter even recorded 42 percent ratings at its peak, per Preview. Soon, projects poured in, especially commercials. He earned an estimated total of $6.7 million from brand sponsors that he used to buy a new home. He was able to make two movies, “The Thieves” and “Secretly, Greatly,” which became box office favorites.

The drama that cemented his status as the top earning actor in South Korea is “My Love From the Star,” which was a global hit. Reports claim his paycheck climbed to as much as $840,000 per episode of that series, which he co-starred with Jun Ji-hyun. Due to his popularity overseas, Soo Hyun was able to bag endorsements such as Samsonite, Calvin Klein, Lotte Fitin, Beanpole, and Tous le Jours, as well as a number of brands from China.

If the 32-year-old actor is on top of cash rankings in 2020, these fellow actors are sure to give him a run for his money. Hyun Bin is reportedly earning $84,000 per episode of a Korean drama. A typical series has 16 episodes which means he earned about $1.3 million from his last drama, “Crash Landing On You.” South China Morning Post reports that Lee Min-ho, who appeared on “The King: Eternal Monarch” is getting paid $62,000 per episode. Jo In-sung and So Ji-sub took the 3rd and 4th spot, respectively, with $67,000 earnings per episode. 

South Korean dramas are fueling the entertainment industry of South Korea, together with the success of K-Pop stars. The movie industry is also enjoying renewed appreciation worldwide, boosted by the recent performance of the movie “Parasite,” which was named Academy Awards 2020 Best Picture and emerged as the Palme d’Or winner at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival. 

What makes Soo Hyun a top endorser? A commercial agent claims his appeal to younger and older people does the trick. His earnings for “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay” are estimated at $165,000 per episode, which could total to $2.6 million for 16 episodes. With the massive success overseas of the drama, it will not be surprising if multiple endorsement deals start knocking on his doors soon. 

Kim Soo Hyun South Korean actor Kim Soo Hyun attends KCON 2015 at the Los Angeles Convention Center on August 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. KCON is an annual K-Pop convention held in the United States and Japan that celebrates the expansion of Korean pop culture known as "Hallyu" or "Korean Wave". Photo: Matthew Simmons/Getty Images