The Korean entertainment industry is a billion-dollar business, with K-pop and K-dramas (Korean TV shows) experiencing huge popularity across Asia, and even in some parts of the West too. However, the reality is that most Korean stars don't make much money from music sales or acting gigs -- the real cash is in commercials and endorsement deals.
Getting a hit song or TV show is often just a way for a celebrity to get their face known so they can be hired to model for a major brand, and if they're popular enough to land commercials outside of Korea in lucrative markets like China and Japan, they can make as much money as top Hollywood stars do. Just take actor Kim Soo-hyun for example, who recently earned a whopping $18 million dollars in just two months.
Let me just repeat that: EIGHTEEN MILLION IN TWO MONTHS!
The 26-year-old made all of the dough in China, where he filmed about 16 different commercials throughout March and April. He makes roughly between $720,000 and $1.87 million per commercial, and has fronted major brands like Häagen Dazs, Coca-Cola, Hyundai, Samsung, and The Face Shop.
Soo-hyun's popularity in China is all thanks to his recent role in the Korean drama series, You Who Came From The Stars, which became a surprise hit across Asia earlier this year. The show became so big in China that any product featured in it became an instant must-have: Korean beer exports spiked 200% just because it was the leading lady's favourite drink, and Korean chicken restaurants in China had customers lining up for two hours just to try her favourite snack.
The next step is taking You Who Came From The Stars to the big screen, with plans already in place to have the series edited down into a two-hour movie for release in China this Summer.
Certainly not a bad way to make a living!
Check out some of Kim Soo-hyun's commercials, below.