The HUGE Difference In Pay Between Top Korean Actors And Actresses

Some male actors make FIVE times as much as their female counterparts.

After Kim Soo Hyun‘s alleged salary one of his K-Dramas was revealed to the public, the difference in salaries between male and female actors has been a constant talking point regarding equality of pay.

Actor Kim Soo Hyun | E! Online

Previously, the It’s Okay To Not Be Okay actor shocked the nation as numerous different media sources reported his alleged pay for his drama, One Ordinary Day. According to these news reports, Kim Soo Hyun was set to receive a guaranteed ₩500 million KRW (about $386,000 USD) per episode. This number is the guaranteed minimum, as it does not include the revenue that the drama will be making from advertisements, copyright sales and more. With such a shockingly high salary, this became the talk of the town for quite some time.

Kim Soo Hyun | tvN

In light of this news regarding Kim Soo Hyun’s upcoming pay, the discussion of pay discrepancies between actors and actresses have begun to make their way online. Prior to Kim Soo Hyun’s news, the pay difference between males and females in South Korea has already been widely acknowledged, but this topic hasn’t truly been discussed in regards to the entertainment industry. That is, until the reveal of the average salaries for top actors and actresses.

Actress Seo Ye Ji (left), actor Kim Soo Hyun (right) | Netflix

According to the reports, it was difficult to find top-tier actresses who received a salary of more than ₩100 million KRW (about $77,200 USD) per episode for a drama series production. This number is significantly lower than the average salary of ₩200 million KRW (about $154,000 USD) that most male leads receive per drama episode. While ₩100 million KRW (about $77,200 USD) is still a large sum of money, compared to that of Kim Soo Hyun and other male actors, it is a fraction of what male actors receive.

Kim Soo Hyun (left), Actress Jun Ji Hyun (right) | SBS

Different industry insiders state numerous reasons behind the pay discrepancies. One reason that was brought up as an argument was the fact that dramas usually focus more heavily on the male lead rather than the female lead. Another argument compared the popularity of male versus female leads overseas. They claimed that the salary of an actor is dependent on their fame overseas and this plays a big role in the wage gap.

Actress Gong Hyo Jin (left), Kim Soo Hyun (right) | KBS

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea has the largest wage gap between males and females, with a 31.1% difference, much higher than the OECD country average of 11.9%. While numerous different reasons were given, this is the not first time that South Korea took the number 1 spot for this ranking.

Wage gap difference in percentage by country | OECD

With such statistics, the discrepancy between male and female actors should not come as a surprise to anyone. Kim Soo Hyun is one of the most well-respected and talented actors in the Korean industry currently. His salary is more than well-deserved and we couldn’t be more excited for him. We hope that one day, female actresses and female citizens of South Korea will get to see the same respect and acknowledgement as their male peers.

Source: WikiTree and The Korea Herald
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