Top 10 Highest Paid K-Drama Actresses in 2020
Based on the data collected by The Toplists, here’s a list of the top 10 highest-paid Korean actresses of 2020:
The Hallyu wave undoubtedly owes much of its success to its beloved top stars as they continuously work to rake in billions for the Korean entertainment industry. Hence, it comes as no surprise to find that both actors and actresses are paid handsomely for their TV appearances, movie roles, and their ad contracts alike. And after having heard of Kim Soo Hyun as the highest paid Korean actor of 2020, we bet you’re curious to know how the ladies are faring. So here’s a list of the Top 10 highest paid K-Drama actresses in 2020:
10. Park Shin Hye
Estimated $17,000 per episode
Park Shin Hye ranked 33rd in the Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list back in 2015. She took a big leap two years later, then placing in number 12 by 2017. The 30-year-old actress first made a name for herself in the 2003 melodrama Stairway to Heaven, but it wasn’t until she starred as the dutiful Cha Eun Sang in the The Heirs (2013) that she truly became a household name. Shin Hye is also a singer and has lent her voice to multiple drama soundtracks over the years including Pinocchio (2015), The Heirs, and You’re Beautiful (2009). She also appeared opposite Hyun Bin in the 2018 drama Memories of the Alhambra
9. Park Bo Young
Estimated $25,000 per episode
Although most K-drama enthusiasts will recognize her as the Herculean leading lady in Strong Girl Bong Soon (2017), Park Bo Young actually rose to prominence as one of the leads in the 2008 comedy film Scandal Makers. The film reportedly brought in 8.3 million viewers, and was therefore the number one top grossing film in Korea that year. Bo Young’s performance subsequently earned her the Best New Actress Award at the 45th Baeksang Arts Awards.
8. Shin Min Ah
Estimated $25,000 per episode
Before carving her name in the acting business, Shin Min Ah first found success as a model. Fans might especially remember her multi-episode ad for phone company LG titled Summer Days where she also starred alongside Hyun Bin. She’s since appeared in various music videos and K-dramas including Oh My Venus (2015), My Girlfriend is Nine-Tailed Fox (2010), and Tomorrow with You (2017).
7. Gong Hyo Jin
Gong Hyo Jin resided in Australia with her family for three years before moving back to Korea due to the Asian Financial Crisis in the ‘90s. She started her acting career in 1999, working her way up to bigger roles until she finally broke through the mainstream with Emergency Act 19, a 2002 political satire film. That said, newer K-drama fanatics know her best as Dong Baek from When the Camellia Blooms (2019), for which she was nominated for the Best Actress Award at the 56th Baeksang Arts Awards. Hyo Jin has also appeared in The Producers (2015), It’s Okay That’s Love (2014), and Master’s Sun (2013).
6. Kim Tae Hee
Anyone with a penchant for tragic K-dramas has surely cried over Kim Tae Hee’s heartbreaking plight in Hi Bye, Mama (2020). However, what fans of the show may not know is that the actress’ career-defining role is actually miles different from Cha Yu Ri’s personality. Tae Hee first rose to fame early on in 2003 after portraying Han Yoori, the evil step sister in Stairway to Heaven. Other dramas she’s starred in include Forbidden Love (2004), Love Story in Harvard (2004), and Yong-pal (2015).
5. Song Hye Kyo
Estimated $42,000 per episode
Song Hye Kyo ranked 7th in the Forbes Korea Power Celebrity list in 2017, before rising to the 6th spot a year later. She’s proven to be a top Hallyu icon in South Korea especially after starring in the immensely successful 2016 drama Descendants of the Sun as Dr. Kang Mo Yeon. The series received a cult following and became a cultural phenomenon all over Asia. Hye Kyo, for her part, received over 10 award nominations for her role on the show. After DOTS’ run ended, the actress later returned to the silver screen in 2018 with TVN’s Encounter alongside Park Bo Gum. Additionally, Hye Kyo was also hailed as the 18th most beautiful woman in the world in 2011 by U.S. Film website Independent Critics. The annual list, which ranks 100 beautiful faces, welcomed Hye Kyo as their first Korean entry in its 21-year history.
4. Choi Ji Woo
Yet another Stairway to Heaven alumna, Choi Ji Woo won her shot at acting through a talent audition in 1994, helmed by MBC. She and her fellow castmates soon aided in the establishment of the Korean wave with the global success of the now iconic 2002 drama Winter Sonata. The series was so well loved that Ji Woo and Bae Yong Joon, her love interest on the show, earned a statue of their characters in Nami Island where Winter Sonata was mostly filmed. Apart from the two aforementioned series, Ji Woo is also known for The Suspicious Housekeeper (2013), Temptation (2014), and Twenty Again (2015).
3. Ha Ji Won
Ha Ji Won famously revealed in a 2012 interview that she had auditioned for over 100 projects before actually landing on a role for the teen drama New Generation Report: Adults Don’t Understand Us (1996). She soon received international acclaim for her starring role in the 2010 hit Secret Garden where she played opposite Hyun Bin, and her 2013 historical drama Empress Ki. Her other notable credits include Sex Is Zero (2002), Hwang Jini (2006), and Hospital Ship (2017).
Read more: K-Drama Review: My Love from Another Star
2. Lee Young Ae
Jewel in the Palace (2003) star Lee Young Ae entered the entertainment industry in 1991 as a model. She tried her luck with acting two years later and appeared in in the 1993 drama How’s Your Husband? A testament to her acting chops, her acting debut immediately landed her the Best New Actress Award at 1994 SBS Drama Awards. You can also catch Young Ae in Saimdang, Memoir of Colors (2017), and Lady Vengeance (2015). She also made a cameo in the 2018 drama My ID is Gangnam Beauty.
1. Jun Ji Hyun
Jun Ji Hyun established herself as a top Hallyu star early on in her career for her role in My Sassy Girl (2001), a.k.a. one the highest grossing Korean comedy films of all time. In 2011, she once again made history as the first Korean actress to be featured on American Vogue where she was photographed by legendary portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz. Though she tried her luck in Hollywood for five years, Ji Hyun soon returned to Korean TV screens and was once again hailed as a top drama actress for her lead role in the 2013 fantasy romance My Love from the Star opposite Kim Soo Hyun. Her other notable TV and movie roles include Legend of the Blue Sea (2016), Windstruck (2004), and The Berlin File (2013).
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