Credit: iMBC

The paycheck of Song Kang Ho for the Disney Plus series Uncle Samsik has reportedly reached a staggering 700 million KRW (approx. 520,000 USD) per episode. With the series spanning 16 episodes, this brings his total earnings to an eye-watering 11.2 billion KRW (approx. 8.3 million USD). This amount exceeds a quarter of the show’s 40 billion KRW production budget.

A casting director with a decade of experience working with global OTT platforms revealed on June 7th, “Song Kang Ho, who made his TV drama debut with ‘Uncle Samsik,’ received 700 million KRW per episode.” Although this is lower than Lee Jung Jae’s 1.3 billion KRW (approx. 970,000 USD) per episode for Squid Game 2, it places Song Kang Ho alongside top-tier actors like Lee Byung Hun, Song Joong Ki, and Kang Dong Won.

However, there’s a significant disparity in earnings within the industry, leading to mixed reactions. One film industry insider noted, “Song Kang Ho earned 800 million KRW (approx. 594,000 USD) for ‘Parasite,’ so receiving 700 million KRW per episode for a global OTT drama is surprising. The financial power of American OTT platforms seems overwhelming for local capital.”

While lead actors benefit greatly from diversified platforms, there are growing concerns about fairness. Production companies take only 6-7% in commissions and must transfer all IP rights, pushing them toward becoming mere agencies for American companies.

One drama production company CEO stated, “There are rumors that Netflix is moving its production base from Korea to Japan, reflecting cost efficiency issues.” He added, “Following the lackluster performance of ‘Blood Free’ starring Han Hyo Joo, Disney Plus is also facing disappointing results with ‘Uncle Samsik.’ There are now talks of them re-evaluating their entire Korean operation. With the 52-hour workweek and rising labor costs for actors and staff, global OTT platforms might look for more cost-effective locations than Korea.”

Despite high expectations, Uncle Samsik has only aired 11 episodes so far, with mixed reviews. While the acting has been praised, the series suffers from tedious direction, slow pacing, and overly ambitious storytelling.

Song Kang Ho’s agency, Sublime, clarified regarding his salary: “Song Kang Ho originally signed a contract with Slingshot Studio for a 10-episode series. However, the editing process extended it to 16 episodes, and his per-episode salary for the 16-episode format is below 400 million KRW (approx. 297,000 USD).”


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