Extra! Korea

July 8, 2010

(Updated) Entertainers’ annual incomes nearly 10 million won less than ordinary office workers’

Filed under: celebrities, economics — extrakorea @ 6:08 am


The Chosun Ilbo has an article which gives us a little more information. It looks like one reason for the low average income was because 18,000 entertainers with very low ones (less than 5 million won a year) were included and dragged the average down. Also noteworthy is the fact that the number of poor entertainers has risen.


Original Post:

If you’re an entertainer, you must live in a luxurious mansion tended to by maids while butlers serve you flutes full of champagne on silver platters, right? Not if you’re a run-of-the-mill entertainer in South Korea. Despite the fact that the country is obsessed with celebrities, your average entertainer earns much less than your average Joe Kim who works in an office.

According to the National Tax Service (NTS), the yearly income for actors, musicians and models averages 28.5 million won, almost 10 million won less than normal office workers’ 38.2 million won.

In the quote above, they lumped actors, musicians, and models together. Below is rough breakdown by profession:

An NTS analysis of income of non-salaried people and services providers shows that movie and TV actors earn more than musicians or models

The NTS says 12,029 actors who are exempted from value added tax reported their combined total income as 463.7 billion won in 2008, averaging 38 million won a year.

It also says the income of 3,152 musicians averaged 26 million won in 2008, two thirds that of office workers, and 6,238 models earn 11 million won a year, less than 1 million won a month ― almost the legal minimum wage.

Models’ earnings are almost as low as minimum wage?

“Since the reported income includes all expenses, most celebrities are sure to have a hard time living on their small income,” said an NTS official.

I guess that could be why four of the most famous female singers all said on a recent radio show that they like guys with a lot of money.

It should be noted that members of Korean girl groups and boy bands don’t have to worry about rent or utilities, as almost all of them live together in dormitory-like housing that’s provided by their companies. If you’re a stalker enthusiastic fan, you can even find out where they live via the Internet.


  1. I wonder if the two malaria deaths of Korean dancers who were infected in South Africa are connected. These entertainers didn’t receive competent medical advice before they left Korea. I also wonder if they were housed in decent hotels – the good ones would be mosquito-proof.
    I wrote about it here:


    But, to be honest, I covered the main points above already.

    Comment by surprisesaplenty — July 9, 2010 @ 12:33 am

  2. […] however, not only are hopefuls beginning as young as 10 years old, but average entertainers make barely more than minimum wage too. And even KARA (카라), currently one of Korea’s most popular girl groups, live in […]

    Pingback by Korean Gender Reader « The Grand Narrative — July 11, 2010 @ 2:44 am

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