Korean TV Stations Propose Pay Cuts to Save Money

With the global economy mired in recession as 2008 winds down, Korean tv stations have been finding it difficult to balance the budgets for their respective drama productions. The 3 major tv stations KBS, MBC and SBS have thus decided on a pay reduction (per episode) to save on the overall costs.

Times Are Difficult Even for Korean Dramas

Korean tv stations have not been immune to the current economic downturn, with a drastic loss in revenue from advertisers buying ad space on television, leading to reduced budgets for drama productions. To get over this difficult period, the 3 major tv stations and the production companies have decided to “operate” on the salaries of top stars participating in the dramas. Their target? Hoping to reduce their pay per episode to 15 million won and below.

As a comparison, Song Seung Hun draws 70 million won per episode for East of Eden currently, having already reduced his original asking price beforehand. For salaries drawn by top stars like Bae Yong Joon, Choi Ji Woo, etc per episode, visit this link. The stars have yet to comment or agree on this. But the industry is in really bad shape this past year with productions being cancelled like Kwon Sang Woo’s Daemul while Yoon Eun Hye’s involvement in a drama fizzled out before pre-production most probably due to budget constraints.

It’s still not too bad for the Korean movie industry. For Won Bin’s upcoming movie Mother, despite having only completed 20% of filming, Japanese distributors have already started placing pre-orders for the rights.

27 thoughts on “Korean TV Stations Propose Pay Cuts to Save Money

  1. I think the actors have agreed to have salary cuts so there’s less production costs…they understand the problems these networks are facing and I can’t help but admire them more.

  2. If they work with the actors, I think it’s no harm done. It seems that everyone from all over the world is effected by the economy dropping.

  3. the thing is, would actors accept such a STEEP cut? they’ll still earn a good living, but i’m sure it’ll feel like they just dropped out of the sky & suddenly just “jobbing actors” like others.

    i’d not be surprised if there are “special case” stars, or people who try to go through back door (get handed envelopes more than what’s on paper!)

  4. very very interesting…now i wonder how much money do they pay tv stations to drama actors in my country [venezuela], much less than kwon sang woo’s salary for sure!


  5. No big deal, If “A-list” actors don’t agree with this, then there are always plenty of “B-list” actors who wait for a great opportunity…

  6. ^ That may be true, although dramas that fetch top dollars outside korea usually need “A-listers”. the buyers recognize existing fanbase “only”.

  7. At least they’re still getting paid. Not long ago a concert was canceled the day beforehand because the sponsors didn’t pay up. I believe all three top groups of SM Entertainment had to withdraw from it and that caused major pandemonium amongst the fangirls.

    I live in the U.S. and it’s been reported that we’re doing so bad that it’s worst than the previous depression that occurred not long ago. I always thought it was just us, but apparently it’s worldwide.

    Hopefully this will end sometime very soon as many are losing their jobs as a result of the poor economy. Actors should be thankful they’re still getting paid a decent amount, though not as high as they want it to be.

  8. yah…really feel bad too….
    we are all in recession rite now…
    need to save up money…
    hopefully all went well..
    Hwaiting everyone~!!!

  9. Song Seung Hun gets paid almost $53,000 USD per episode? Wow, I never realized that Korean celebrities get paid pretty well even though they’re not in the American market.

  10. It’s no surprise that Yon-sama is on top of the chart hehehe….200 million won (200,000) for 1 episode of Legend! Well at least it got high rating so the company/investors should be happy.

  11. The point is how long the casting payment will return to its origin after the cut-down had started. Some companies will take the advantage of the star fames to promote their movies with their bloody low budget. IMO, they must cut some programs or their human resource instead of their celebrity casting. The stars deserves it. This is a clever move, coz it wont affect their companies.

  12. Pingback: Is The Korean Tv About To Get Downgraded?

  13. ^
    200 million won is $200,000.

    the actors and actresses only get that much pay when the drama it’s not being produced by the stations, but rather separate production companies with loads of money to spend.

    what do you mean by “being put on indefinite suspension (Yoon Eun Hye)”

    is she suspended from making drama’s?

  14. yeah….i wanna know why is yoon eun hye suspended from making dramas?? is her asking price to high?? but she does garner very high ratings for her dramas…..

  15. Korean stars still make good money but it’s nothing compared to American T.V. Before the show “Friends” ended all 6 of the lead stars were getting paid slightly over 1 million USD per episode. With numbers like that you can see why Korean stars, of both acting and music, have been trying to break into the U.S. entertainment industry lately.

  16. it is a misinformed article..
    the part where it said:

    “The stars have yet to comment or agree on this. But the industry is in really bad shape this past year with productions being cancelled (Kwon Sang Woo) or being put on indefinite suspension (Yoon Eun Hye)”
    — it is referring to the drama Personal Preference being put on ‘indefinite suspension’ ( meaning the drama bing cancelled)it is not referring to YEH being suspended just the Personal Preference drama.

    This is still misinformed, cos YEH never said “YES!” to Personal Preference so she shouldn’t be linked to it’s ‘indefinite suspension’..
    tho they (PP) did kinda imply that everything failed when YEH rejected the offer.. <.<

    credit: smr05 soompi

  17. since all 3 station are cutting pay cuts. the stars don hav a choice but to accept.. its either take the pay cut or dun get paid at all.. 3 major station is doing it.. the stars hav no place to go… so its either take it or leave it… isnt it?

  18. @ cat

    thank you for the clarification.
    i was getting worried that EH was not making dramas because she was suspended.

  19. but “Friends” is an epic show…very few sitcoms can compare to Friends. it’s as high up there as The Simpsons.

    every episode garners millions of viewers, after all, so paying $1 million for each actor/actress per episode isn’t ridiculously high (ok maybe it is, but it’s worth it!!).

    Being that asian dramas don’t really last long, actors/actresses can’t really demand that much per episode. In Friends, for example, the characters have been playing these roles for years. Also, asian dramas focus more on story/plot, wherewas in american sitcoms viewership depends on how well liked the characters are (was there ever really a plot to Friends beyond the who-am-i-hooking-up-with or lets-watch-each-other-grow subplots?)

    But yeah, many foreign countries would like to get their break into the American market. There’s money in it, after all.

  20. American stars get paid real high compare to S. Korean actors.
    Julia Roberts is the highest paid actress in the U.S.A.

    Choi Ji Woo volunteered to cut her salary by 30% in Star’s Lover. She’s not paid as high as her male contemporaries like Bae Yong Joon, Song Seong Hun, Kwon Sang Woo & Lee Jung Jae. It’s really not fair that women gets much lower pay than the male stars in S. Korea. Choi Ji Woo won so many great acting awards & yet she’s way behind in pay of her leading men who worked with her. Double standard.

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