The two have seen a meteoric rise in popularity in China following roles in the SBS dramas “The Heirs” and “Man from the Stars.” They are at the forefront of Hallyu’s advancement into China, which is fast becoming the new focus of Korean entertainment companies over Japan.
Kim Soo Hyun and Lee Min Ho’s popularity can be directly measured by their CF work. The two are currently competitive rivals in the Chinese CF market and can be said to be leading the industry. Companies have had to lay down extreme incentives and conduct under the table negotiations in order to sign the two actors. Competition is that intense.
Both actors currently command an appearance fee of around 2 trillion won (~USD$1.87 million) per CF. However, Chinese CF contracts generally have a standard length of 2 years. This guarantees them at least USD$1 million per CF per year, which is similar to the amount they’d make in Korea. They are now worth more in terms of CFs than Rain and Jang Dong Gun, who are also hugely popular in China.
A Chinese CF agent revealed, “Chinese CF contracts for Korean stars are generally for two years, so it’s not possible to compare it directly with their CF worth in Korea. All this considered, Lee Min Ho and Kim Soo Hyun have hit a record high.”
What’s noteworthy in their cases is they were the first to propose 1-year contracts to the Chinese side, an indication of their confidence in their popularities rising further within the next year.
The agent added, “The two currently command the highest fees among Korean stars ever. However, they’re still behind nationwide stars such as Jackie Chan and Andy Lau. There’s still room for their fees to increase, but it depends on their activities in the future.”
Lee Min Ho’s current Chinese endorsements include global brands such as Kia Motors and Fila, and top Chinese brands Taobao, Ai Shang and Senmir. Kim Soo Hyun was recently selected as the face of Coca-Cola and Samsung Electronics (along with Jun Ji Hyun) in China, along with other pre-existing CFs.
Another industry representative stated, “China has a population of 1.3 billion so their CF exposure is tremendous. Being able to move a population of 1.3 billion means that they’ll be able to reach out to the world. The Chinese market is fast becoming a replacement for the Japanese market, with is stagnating due to a weak yen and conservative policies.”