Women's Day bonanza for K-stars

Shanghai - International Women's Day was a wild weekend for K-drama fans in China and a huge payday for the most wanted South Korean heart-throbs now - Kim Soo Hyun and Lee Min Ho.

Landing at Hangzhou International Airport last Friday, Lee passed through the regular departure hall, removed his shades to greet fans and the crowd went crazy, said news website NetEase.

A glass gate broke, a row of flower pots were smashed and at least one female fan was cut on her head, said airport staff.

The next day, for an event he was attending for an electronics brand, organisers beefed up security, with 200 guards, said NetEase. Lee, the star of last year's The Inheritors, sang on CCTV's Chinese New Year Eve gala on Jan 30 and his popularity has since exploded in second- and third-tier cities here, said industry insiders.

Lee's endorsement deal with the brand is in the range of 5 million yuan (S$1 million) to 10 million yuan, said one source. "Top-tier celebrity endorsements in the mainland are usually priced up to 10 million yuan," the source added, and Lee might have been paid more.

Hour for hour, Kim had a more profitable weekend though. He arrived in Nanjing last Saturday, just nine days after his hit TV series My Love From The Star ended, attended a taping of Jiangsu Satellite TV's variety show The Brain for only five hours and flew back to Seoul, said NetEase.

For his first gig in China since the success of the sci-fi romance, he was paid 3 million yuan - or 600,000 yuan an hour - said the sources.

They rejected reports that his fee was 6 million yuan but explained that 3 million yuan is much more than the 1 million-yuan fee of the biggest names in China.

According to NetEase, Kim had only one requirement for the taping of the show - safety - and the broadcaster went to great lengths to meet it.

It deployed 600 guards and banned non-related staff and their relatives from the taping, said the report. Still, the session was such a hot ticket that one fan had to pay 3,000 yuan for an admission pass and another fan shelled out 8,000 yuan for a front-row seat.

Although Kim is worth more in China now, Lee has been earning more, said NetEase. Kim, who quotes 2 million yuan to make an appearance, has accepted few engagements. He has a fan meeting in Shanghai this month (a 1,280 yuan ticket is worth 10,000 yuan now) and little else.

Lee, whose fee for an appearance is about 1.2 million yuan, has done gigs in Xiamen, Xi'an and other cities this year. The actor, whose other hit K-dramas include 2009's Boys Over Flowers, also has a bigger fan base. He has a following of 20 million on Weibo, whereas Kim has 5 million.

But at the end of the day, Korean actors are paid less to act than their Chinese counterparts, said NetEase, quoting Korean magazine High Cut. Kim reportedly commands about 300,000 yuan an episode, less than Lee, at about 500,000 yuan. Jang Keun Suk is the best-paid Korean actor, at about 600,000 yuan an episode.

Top Chinese actors such as Wen Zhang and Sun Honglei are paid more, in the region of 700,000 yuan to 900,000 yuan.

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