A quick look at the surface of Korea's celebrity scene looks glossy and unimaginably luxurious, doesn't it? Truth is, that's not always the case. Think about the B-list K-pop idols who never quite make the cut above the rest or the actors who ride out their careers playing exclusively supporting roles. We also have a considerable number of celebrities suspended somewhere in the middle of the industry's top guns and its bottom dwellers, but we'll sing their praises some other time.
For now, let's focus on the celebrities with net worths and however-many-digit incomes that make us feel like that piece of chewed gum splattered on the street that gets stuck to the bottom of our shoes once every so often. Here are some of the wealthiest celebrities raking in the cash in Korea's entertainment sphere:
Celebrities with the highest property wealth (ranked):
1. Lee Soo Man
SM Entertainment's Lee Soo Man comes in at an overwhelming first with 19.1 billion won (roughly 18.6 million USD) worth of buildings in his possession.
2. Seo Taiji
Often referred to as "the President of Culture," Seo Taiji has become something of a cultural icon for contributing to the development of K-Pop from its early stages in the 1990s. He owns a building worth 10.21 billion won (roughly 9.9 million USD) in Seoul's posh Gangnam district and a building worth 5.83 billion won (roughly 5.7 million USD) in Jongro. The two buildings are 16.04 billion won (roughly 15.7 million USD) in scale.
3. Yang Hyun Suk
Coming in third is CEO of YG Entertainment and former member of Seo Taiji and Boys, Yang Hyun Suk. He has in his possession a personal building, worth 11.87 billion won (roughly 11.6 million USD), and the YG building, worth 3.48 billion won (roughly 3.48 million USD). The combined worth of the buildings totals 15.35 billion won (roughly 15 million USD).
Veteran singer Rain owns a building worth 8.54 billion won (roughly 8.3 million USD) and a building worth 3.41 billion won (roughly 3.3 million USD) in Cheongdamdong and Shinsadong respectively. The buildings in his possession come out to a total of 12.15 billion won (roughly 11.8 million USD).
5. Kwon Sang Woo
Actor Kwon Sang Woo built a new building in Bundang worth 11.44 billion won (roughly 11.1 million USD), landing him in fifth place.
6. Song Seung Hun
Actor Song Seung Hun owns a building in Jamwondong worth 11.22 billion won (roughly 10.9 million USD).
7. Jun Ji Hyun
Beloved actress Jun Ji Hyun owns a building worth 7.1 billion won (roughly 6.9 million USD) and another worth 3.2 billion won (roughly 3.1 million USD) in Nonhyeon-dong and Yongsan-dong, respectively. The total comes out to 10.23 billion won (roughly 9.9 million USD).
Idols with the most amount of real estate (ranked):
Junsu owns a penthouse in Samsung-dong worth 2.6 billion won (roughly 2.5 million USD), a town house in Paju worth 1.8 billion won (roughly 1.8 million USD), and a resort in Jeju-do worth 15 billion won (roughly 14.6 million USD). The total cost of his real estate comes out to a staggering 19.4 billion won (roughly 18.9 million USD).
2. Jang Geun Suk
Hallyu star Jang Geun Suk owns a 4 billion won luxury villa (roughly 3.9 million USD). In 2011, he purchased a six-story building worth 10 billion won (roughly 10 million USD) from comedian Seo Se Won in Seoul. In 2012, he revealed he bought a six-story building in Japan's bustling Shibuya district with the intention of opening his own department store. The cost of the building has not been revealed, but the net worth of all property totals 14 billion won (roughly 13.6 million USD).
3. Lee Seung Gi
Singer, actor, and MC Lee Seung Gi lives in the 'Brownstone Legend' building in Seoul, worth 3.2 billion won (roughly 3.1 million USD).
JYJ's Jaejoong owns 3 billion won worth of property (roughly 2.9 million USD).
5. Kim Hyun Joong
Kim Hyun Joong owns a European-style villa in Apgujung-dong that's worth 3 billion won (roughly 2.9 million USD).
Big Bang's T.O.P purchased a 3 billion won villa (roughly 2.9 million USD) in Hannam-dong.
KARA's Hara bought a home in Chungdamdong that costs 1.2 billion won (roughly 1.2 million USD).
Idols with wealthy family backgrounds (in no particular order):
Super Junior's Siwon is a well-known chaebol-dol (chaebol idol). His father, Choi Ki Ho, is the CEO of Boryung Medicine Co., which specializes in the distribution of pharmaceutical goods. Siwon's family is also rumored to own the Hyundai Department Store, one of the largest supermarket chains in Korea. If the rumor is true, it remains unclear what percentage of shares his family holds.
Fellow ZE:A member Kwanghee revealed in a broadcast that Hyungsik's father is on the Board of Directors for the German 'B' brand car company. ZE:A's agency later revealed that Hyungsik is the son of a board of director for BMW Korea.
On a broadcast of Mnet's 'Beatles Code 2,' when Suho was asked whether he was a chaebol-dol, he said it was a misunderstanding. Then Kai added, "His hobby is to go golfing." (A "chaebol" is a wealthy Korean conglomerate, and, in Korea, golfing is almost always enjoyed by wealthy people.) On the same broadcast, Suho revealed he lives in Apgujung, next to Super Junior Siwon's apartment. His father is a professor and his mother is a former teacher-turned-housewife.
2AM Jinwoon's wealth and well-off family background were revealed in a 'Radio Star' recording. When asked whether it was true his house in Chungdamdong had a private practice room, he admitted it was true that his house was located in Cheongdamdong with no comments regarding the practice room.
His father is the CEO of an unspecified company and his mother is an interior designer. He did reveal his father's company in Samsung district is located on Tehran Street (Teheran-no). With this comment, Jinwoon further raised eyebrows as Tehran Street is known to be one of the pricier plots of land in Seoul. Also, fellow member Seulong mentioned that Jinwoon hired a party planner for his 21st birthday party, further hinting at Jinwoon's family wealth.
Sooyoung's grandfather is the president of a famous architectural firm and her father is the president of a trading company.