Top 10 Korean dramas with the most expensive production costs: Squid Game drops out of Top 3

Theatrical films are more known to have expensive production costs, but in fact, many Korean dramas are also well-invested with significantly high budgets.

Most viewers probably assume that only movies are invested with high budgets. However, some dramas are the exception. Let’s check out the following series with the highest production costs

*The production cost of each drama listed below is an estimate and is for reference only. The rankings are based on the average estimated cost of each episode.

10. Legend of the Blue Sea: Lee Min Ho, Jun Ji Hyun

Legend of the Blue Sea

Although Legend of the Blue Sea is only a romance drama, it was still heavily invested. The cost for the drama is up to 22 billion won for 20 episodes and a special episode, if divided equally on average, each episode costs 1.05 billion won. In addition to the money used to pay for two leads who are A-list actors, Jun Ji Hyun and Lee Min Ho, the drama also used a lot of splendid and lavish backgrounds. The drama’s crew even went to Spain to film. Taking into account the fact that the drama was released in 2017, this budget was considered very high.

9. Crash Landing on You: Hyun Bin, Son Ye Jin

Crash Landing On You

Another drama led by two A-list celebrities Hyun Bin and Son Ye Jin is certainly not a low-budget production, but many viewers did not expect it to be this high. Crash Landing on You has a total production cost of 20 billion won. The total amount is lower than the production cost of Legend of the Blue Sea, but Crash Landing on You only has 16 episodes, so the average amount of each episode is 1.25 billion won.  The drama realistically portrays the life of North Korean people, in order to do this, the director has invested a lot of effort in setting up the backgrounds. In addition, the crew also flew to Switzerland and Mongolia to shoot many beautiful and poetic scenes.

8. Vagabond: Lee Seung Gi, Suzy


This epic action TV blockbuster has cost up to 25 billion won for production for 16 episodes, each episode is estimated to cost 1.56 billion won. This is a series co-produced by Netflix and SBS. The crew specially went to Morocco and Spain to film. In addition to the costs poured in overseas filming, the drama also consists of many grand action scenes with huge weapons, the high cost is understandable.

7. Mr.  Sunshine: Lee Byung Hun, Kim Tae Ri

Mr.  Sunshine

The drama set during the Korean transition from constitutional monarchy to democracy with a military theme and epic scenes was invested up to 40 billion won for 24 episodes, about 1.67 billion won each episode. In Mr. Sunshine, the chaotic war scenes are showcased realistically, the village set, the costumes of the actors consumed a lot of money to get right. In addition, the cast also consists of famous actors. Offering Lee Byung Hun a role in the drama is not easy. This drama was brought together by the work of a dedicated team, so it is not difficult to understand why the drama became a success.

6. The Legend: Bae Yong Joon, Lee Ji Ah

Korean dramas

While the above dramas are all recent productions, The Legend was produced in 2007. At that time, the drama was invested a huge amount of up to 43 billion won for 24 episodes, that means, on average each episode cost about 1.8 billion won. This is a historical drama with a huge scale and mythical theme. In addition to the cost of the backgrounds and costumes, the amount of money paid to the male lead Bae Yong Joon was also a huge number. At that time, the actor received 250 million won for each episode, setting a record among actors for many years, and was only broken recently. 

5. The King: Eternal Monarch (Lee Min Ho, Kim Go Eun)

This work marked Lee Min Ho’s television comeback after military service and was invested 30 billion won for 16 episodes, each episode is about 1,875 billion won, a very high budget. This is understandable because the series builds two parallel worlds, two separate countries that coexist. As a king, Lee Min Ho is invested in very beautiful and expensive costumes, and his residence is also extremely luxurious and magnificent. His palace in the drama was built very elaborately, in addition, there are many other scenes that are very well taken care of such as a military parade, and the effects are also used quite a lot.

4. Squid Game: Lee Jung Jae, Jung Ho Yeon


With a duration of 9 episodes, ‘Squid Game’ is invested with a production cost of 20 billion won, if divided equally, each episode will be about 2.22 billion won. It can be seen that Netflix does not hesitate to invest money to create an epic movie. In the movie, there are a lot of elaborate scenes, gathering a huge number of actors, props are also used a lot, all of which are spent a lot of money by the crew to produce. Worth the big investment, this work was launched very successfully and brought Netflix huge profits. Every product of this “big man” makes a profit no matter what they produce.

3. Penthouse 2, 3: Lee Ji Ah, Kim So Yeon, Eugene


Of the three series, the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Penthouse both cost 30 billion won, but based on the number of episodes, the second season is the most expensive because it has the shortest episodes, only 13 episodes, so that each of them was spent more than 2.3 billion won to produce. Because the story of Penthouse is about the upper class, from the house to the costumes, the equipment in the film is also invested very heavily to give the appearance of a rich person. Interior construction inside Hera Palace is also not cheap. Big investment also brings many benefits, thanks to the attraction of ‘Penthouse’, SBS has increased revenue by more than 13% compared to last year.

2. ‘Sweet Home’: Song Kang, Lee Do Hyun and ‘Arthdal ​​Chronicles’: Song Joong Ki, Jang Dong Gun

Korean dramas

These are the two series that both ranked in the top 2 in the investment chart, in which ‘Sweet Home’ spent 30 billion won for 10 episodes, and ‘Arthdal ​​Chronicles’ was 54 billion won for 18 episodes. The average spending per episode for both these films is 3 billion.

‘Sweet Home’ is highly invested mainly due to new faces, so the pay for actors is not too big of a problem. The high cost of it is mainly used for effects because this is a horror movie that destroys monsters. As for ‘Arthdal ​​Chronicles’, this work is an epic fictional history series, so it costs a lot to set up and film. The crew even set up an exclusive studio in Gyeonggi Province and invested a large amount of money in its production. In addition, the film’s star cast is also all top stars, so the pay for the actors is also very high.

1. Kingdom 1: Joo Ji Hoon, Bae Doo Na

Above all, Netflix’s Kingdom has become the highest-invested work when each episode consumes 3.3 billion won on average, season 1 of this work is only 6 episodes long but was spent up to 20 billion won for production. It can be seen that this is a super huge number, but looking at this work, everyone realizes that the amount is completely right because the film has to set up a historical setting, the costumes of the actors are very invested. Moreover, there are also many actors in this series. Making scary zombie movie scenes is not easy. The cost for the actors and for the effects are very much needed, so the writer originally planned to do 8 episodes, in the end, because of the lack of money, the drama was reduced to only 6 episodes.

It can be seen that technology is increasingly developing, it is understandable that filmmakers have to invest in their brainchild more strongly because the tastes of the audience are raised day by day. The above works have all been released, but the investment competition has not stopped. Joo Ji Hoon and Jun Ji Hyun’s soon-to-be-debuted ‘Jirisan’ also received an investment of 32-35 billion won, in addition, ‘Moving’ with the collaboration of Jo In Sung and Han Hyo Joo was invested up to 50 billion won. Many more epic masterpieces in the future, let’s wait and support the true filmmakers.

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