From chart-topping hit singles and multiple platinum albums to luxury brand collaborations, silver screen appearances and real estate investments, get the scoop on the richest Korean idols and discover who’s making the big bucks in the world of K-pop.
Over the last two decades, Korean music has enjoyed massive success, with its musicians creating a phenomenal K-pop fandom both within the country and beyond its borders. Additionally, the Hallyu wave has not just propelled an entire new generation of Korean actors into the global limelight but also introduced the world to some of the biggest names in the Korean music industry.
Be it South Korean singer PSY from the “Gangnam Style” fame or the BTS members Jungkook and V, these K-pop idols have successfully solidified their solo as well as group music careers, along with minting lucrative brand deals and performing at sold-out concerts, which further augments their exponential net worths.
Know what makes these South Korean celebrities the richest K-pop idols
Estimated net worth: USD 60 million
Park Jae-sang, popularly known by his stage name PSY, is a successful South Korean singer, rapper, songwriter and record producer. One of the richest K-pop idols, PSY gained international fame after releasing the catchy title track “Gangnam Style” from his sixth album, Psy 6 (Six Rules), Part 1, in 2012.
On 21 August 2012, the song topped the iTunes Music Video Charts, surpassing hits by the likes of Justin Bieber and Katy Perry. On 24 November of the same year, “Gangnam Style” became the most-viewed video in YouTube history up to that date. As of 2023, it has been viewed over 4 billion times on the video streaming channel.
The K-pop star, who formed his own company, P Nation, in 2019, has other hit tracks to his credit as well. These include “Right Now”, “It’s Art”, “Urbanite” and “That That”. The last one, a collaborative effort with BTS rapper Suga, surpassed 200 million streams on Spotify in May 2023. The song went on to win Best Collaboration at the 2022 MAMA Awards and debuted at #80 on Billboard Hot 100.
Besides music and group performances, the singer-rapper has also ventured into the world of ads and commercials. PSY was announced as the brand ambassador for the popular MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) set, Ragnarok Origin, in 2022. According to sources, the celebrity earns an estimated USD 8 million from endorsement deals with brands like Samsung and Cruciani.
Furthermore, PSY is the proud owner of a USD 1.25 million condo on Wilshire Boulevard in the heart of Los Angeles, US. The musician also owns an independent coffee shop-cum-art gallery named Takeout Drawing in Itaewon, Seoul, valued at USD 50 million.
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Estimated net worth: USD 40-45 million
From ruling the music and fashion industry to sweeping accolades for her performances in multiple K-dramas and movies, singer Lee Ji Eun, aka IU, has established herself as one of the most successful Hallyu stars of the era.
It was in April 2009 that IU released her first album, Growing Up. It sold over 31,000 copies in Korea’s Circle Gaon chart and gave IU her first Top 25 hits “Boo” and “Hey (Rock Ver.)”. Some of her other hit tracks are “Strawberry Moon”, “Lilac”, “eight” and “Celebrity”. Furthermore, her collaboration with rapper Agust D for “People Pt.2” in 2023 earned her the #1 spot on Billboard Digital Song Sales.
The “Lilac” singer made her acting debut in 2011 with the TV series Dream High. She also made her Cannes Film Festival debut with the 2022 movie Broker. Her April 2023 movie Dream became the first Korean film to land atop the box office within 50 days of its release since The Devil’s Deal in March 2023. Meanwhile, IU’s upcoming project, Thank You for Your Hard Work, co-starring Park Bo-gum, is set to premiere on Netflix in 2025.
IU has also endorsed a huge array of brands, including video games, clothing brands, cosmetics and confectionery. She has also been the face of brands like Samsung, Nongshim, ISOI, The Same, Qdush (China), G by Guess, Woori Financial Group, Chamisul Soju, Jeju Samdasoo and Homeplus. Additionally, the singer was made the global ambassador for the luxury fashion house Gucci in March 2022.
As for luxury properties, IU is the owner of a lavish penthouse worth USD 11.7 million in Eterno Cheongdam, Seoul. She also owns residences in Bangbae, Yangpyeong-gun and Gwacheon.
Estimated net worth: USD 40 million
Dong Young-bae, aka Taeyang, of the K-pop group BIGBANG is known for his musical prowess and magnetic stage presence. He is also among the richest idols in K-pop. While most of his earnings come from his music, luxury fashion collaborations and shareholdings in one of the biggest entertainment agencies in South Korea, YG Entertainment, also add immensely to his ever-growing net worth.
According to The Korea Herald, Taeyang and his fellow BIGBANG member G-Dragon invested about USD 3 million in their former agency, YG Entertainment, in 2016. Meanwhile, Taeyang and his wife, actor Min Hyo-rin, own a property worth USD 13.2 million in Hannam-dong, Seoul. Taeyang has a 94 per cent share of the property’s ownership, while the remaining 6 per cent belongs to his wife, reports the South China Morning Post. Taeyang has a stunning red Lexus worth USD 95,000 as well.
Not to forget, Taeyang’s expensive curation by the popular Korean-American artist Nam June Paik, which is reportedly over USD 500,000.
Taeyang is also the first ever Korean male artist to become the face of the French luxury brand Givenchy. The singer was announced as the brand’s global ambassador in January 2023. Of late, a brand collaboration between Taeyang and the Japanese streetwear designer Hiroshi Fujiwara’s brand, Fragment, led to a special merchandise drop in the shape of flannels, caps and tees in August 2023.
Estimated net worth: USD 24-26 million
One of the richest K-pop idols, Jung Ho-seok, aka J-Hope, is also the wealthiest member of BTS. The rapper has amassed his massive wealth mostly through BTS music production, album sales and songwriting.
The group’s main dancer, J-Hope is also a soloist with several chartbreaking records to his name. He released his first solo mixtape, Hope World, in 2018. Other milestones to his credit are hit singles like “Chicken Noodle Soup” feat Becky G, “On the Street” with J. Cole and his 2022 album Jack in the Box. Additionally, the latter became the most streamed album by a Korean Soloist in 2022 and garnered 345.1 million streams on Spotify.
Besides music production, J-Hope’s high-end brand collaborations make a massive addition to his staggering net worth. The rapper became Louis Vuitton’s house ambassador on 24 January 2023. The K-pop star has also been featured in multiple commercials with national and international brands, such as PUMA’s Blaze of Glory (BOG) Sock sneaker campaign, LG and Samsung.
Additionally, the singer also owns a luxury apartment in Seoul’s Forest Trimage complex. The apartment was bought for USD 1.2 million in 2016, making J-Hope the first BTS member to buy his own abode. According to the South China Morning Post, the “1 Verse” crooner went on to buy a second unit in the same complex alongside his bandmate Jungkook. The rapper is also the owner of Porsche Carrera 911, which costs about USD 84,000.
Estimated net worth: USD 23-25 million
BTS’ lead rapper, Suga has collaborated with many international artists, such as Halsey, ØMI and Steve Aoki as a part of BTS and worked on solo projects under his alias Agust D. His latest global tour, D-Day, became the highest-grossing concert by a Korean soloist in US history, collecting USD 2.970 million each night at UBS Arena in New York on 26-27 April 2023.
One of the richest K-pop idols and the second-richest BTS member, Suga has written and produced over 70 songs for BTS, singers IU, PSY and other musicians.
Besides music, Suga has also ventured into the fashion world. The K-pop idol became Valentino’s global brand ambassador on 17 January 2023 and is now the face of the brand’s Maison Valentino Essentials campaign for men. He has also joined the brand’s Di.VA ambassador family alongside celebrities like British F1 racer Lewis Hamilton and Li Ronghao. Another feat added to his list of brand collaborations includes becoming the NBA’s global ambassador on 5 April 2023.
Suga has also invested in a property located in an exclusive residential area, UN Village, in Seoul. The apartment is close to the Han River and offers mesmerising views of Namsan Mountain. The “Amygdala” singer also owns a Hyundai Palisade worth USD 47,000.
Estimated net worth: USD 20-22 million
Adoringly called the golden maknae, Jungkook is one of the most popular members of BTS alongside V. He has co-produced several record-breaking hits like “Euphoria” and “Stay Alive” with BTS. However, with the group’s members starting their military enlistment, the singer has been focussing on solo activities for a while now.
In 2022, he collaborated with American singer-record producer Charlie Puth for “Left And Right”, which broke multiple Billboard records. His solo single, “Seven”, featuring Latto, officially became the fastest song to surpass 1 billion streams in Spotify history on 30 October 2023.
Meanwhile, his 2023 debut solo album, Golden, sold over 2 million copies in a single day, making Jungkook the first soloist to achieve the feat in Hanteo history in Korea. With Golden, Jungkook also became the first K-pop soloist in history to have an album spend multiple weeks in the top 10 on the Billboard 200.
Additionally, Jungkook was announced as Calvin Klein’s global ambassador in 2023. According to reports, sales for Calvin Klein skyrocketed after the release of Jungkook’s campaign with the brand.
The BTS member is also the owner of a posh property in the elite area of Itaewon in Yongsan, Seoul. According to Korean media, the global star bought the property for USD 7 million in November 2021.
On 16 November 2022, media outlet Newsen reported that a Mercedes Benz AMG G63 Edition, which was apparently owned and driven by the BTS maknae himself, was found on Blacklot — an auction site that mostly specialises in rare items.
Estimated net worth: USD 20-22 million
BTS’ lead vocalist Kim Taehyung, aka V, is one of the richest and most headline-grabbing K-pop idols.
Some of his most popular hits with BTS include “Singularity”, “Stigma”, “Blue & Grey”, “Butter”, “Dynamite” and “Life Goes On”. His 2023 debut solo album, Layover, sold over 2 million copies in its first week of release, making V the first Korean soloist to achieve the feat since Jo Sung-mo’s “Let Me Love” in 2000. According to Hanteo, Layover is now the best-selling solo album of all time in South Korea, along with Jungkook’s Golden.
V has also made his mark in the fashion industry. In July 2023, V was named the newest brand ambassador for the luxury jewellery house Cartier and the face of the brand’s Panthère de Cartier campaign. Meanwhile, the singer’s participation at the 2022 Paris Fashion Week Celine show as the brand’s global ambassador was selected as one of the “Best Fashion Moments of 2022″ by the US fashion magazine Vogue.
Furthermore, the BTS member is the owner of a luxurious apartment in the posh Gangnam district of South Korea. According to multiple Korean media outlets, the property’s worth is USD 4.55 million, and it has a special art room that rarely makes its presence felt on his Instagram.
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Estimated net worth: USD 20-22 million
Born Kim Namjoon, RM (Rap Monster) is the lead rapper, songwriter, producer and leader of BTS. According to the Korea Music Copyright Association (KOMCA), RM has over 215 song credits to his name, as of 2023.
In March 2023, his solo debut album Indigo surpassed 300 million streams on Spotify, becoming the fastest album by a Korean soloist to hit the milestone. Moreover, songs from Indigo sold over 500,000 total units in the US, as of 2 March 2023.
“Take Two” from BTS’ 2022 album Proof, which is co-produced by RM, surpassed 1 million unique listeners on Melon. Some other hits co-written and co-produced by RM include “Magic Shop” by BTS, “Run BTS” by BTS, “Love U, Hate U” by 2AM and “Don’t” by eAeon.
While most of his wealth comes from royalties and solo music projects, RM has also appeared in multiple ads for multinational businesses like the travel retail company Lotte Duty Free and the Florida-based K’hawah Coffee. On 30 March 2023, RM became the first and only celebrity global ambassador for the fashion brand Bottega Veneta.
One of the richest K-pop idols, the leader of BTS is also known as an emerging art collector and owns some of the rarest pieces in Seoul. An August 2022 Instagram update of his home revealed a USD 1.2 million sculpture named Untitled (‘But the boomerang that returns is not the same one I threw’), 2013–17 by American multidisciplinary artist Roni Horn. His home also features a 150 x 150cm painting titled Disappearing Hometown 730 by Joung Young Ju worth USD 42,100.
Furthermore, RM also possesses a USD 5.3 million luxury apartment in Nine One Hannam, Seoul.
Estimated net worth: 20 million
With multiple accolades to her credit, Kim Ji-soo, aka Jisoo, has had one of the most successful careers since her BLACKPINK debut in 2016. She is also one of the most followed K-pop stars on Instagram, with over 76.3 million subscribers.
The first female K-pop soloist in history to have over 1 million pre-orders, Jisoo made history with her 2023 first solo album, Me. The album surpassed over 400 million streams on Spotify on 31 October 2023.
The South Korean singer also achieved her first top 10 entry on the Digital Song Sales chart as a solo artist with her 2023 debut solo single “Flower.” According to the data by Billboard‘s data partner Luminate, the pop track sold 5,700 copies in the first week after its release on 31 March 2023.
Besides music charts, the vocalist is even known to dominate the fashion world. The wealthiest BLACKPINK member, Jisoo was chosen as the global brand ambassador of Dior Fashion and Beauty in 2021, where she joined the likes of Natalie Portman, Marion Cotillard and Rihanna. She is also the face of luxury brands like Cartier and Kiss Me. The K-pop idol, who became Cartier’s global ambassador in 2022, joined the brand’s Panthère community alongside celebrities like Annabelle Wallis, Ella Balinska, Chang Chen and Mariacarla Boscono.
Jisoo ventured into acting with her debut lead role in the 2021 South Korean drama Snowdrop opposite Korean heartthrob Jung Hae-In. According to K-media reports, the singer-actor earned a whopping USD 80,000 per episode and made a total of USD 1.28 million for her role in the series. The BLACKPINK member has also made cameos in hit titles like The Producers (2015) and Arthdal Chronicles (2019).
Estimated net worth: 17 million
Byun Baek-hyun, popular as Baekhyun in K-pop, is one of the richest members of the South Korean group EXO. After a successful career as a member of the boy band, Baekhyun commenced his solo career with the release of his debut EP, City Lights, in 2019. The album sold more than half a million copies and became one of the best-selling albums of the year.
Some of his other record-breaking hits include “Bambi”, “Cry For Love”, “For You”, “Candy” and “Love Again”. On 5 November 2023, Heartsteel’s “Paranoia” featuring Baekhyun surpassed 20 million streams on Spotify. Meanwhile, the K-pop star surged past 4 million monthly listeners on Spotify. With this, he gained the highest number of monthly listeners among all the soloists of their music label SM Entertainment.
His powerful reputation in the K-pop music industry naturally attracted a slew of endorsements and brand collaborations. Baekhyun was appointed the brand ambassador for the British Luxury fashion house Burberry in 2020. He further partnered with popular brands like Montblanc, TirTir and Life Pharm and launched his streetwear fashion brand Privé Alliance. In 2023, the K-pop idol was announced as the brand ambassador for the Indonesian bank Allo.
Additionally, Baekhyun is a connoisseur of all things luxury. According to K-media reports, he is known to drive a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS and an Audi RS7, worth USD 155,029 and USD 131,271, respectively. The singer also reportedly moved into the luxurious villa Lanuvo, nestled within the expensive UN Village of Hannam-dong, Korea.
(Hero image: Courtesy BLACKPINK/Twitter; Weverse; featured image: Courtesy Weverse)
This article first appeared in Lifestyle Asia Hongkong
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
– Who is the richest K-pop idol?
Some of the richest K-pop singers include BTS members Jungkook, V, RM, Suga and J-Hope; BLACKPINK members Jisoo and Lisa; BIGBANG’s Taeyang and other K-pop singers such as PSY and EXO’s Baekhyun.
– Is EXO more popular than BTS?
EXO has become quite inactive as a band of late. According to multiple sources, the most popular band in the world at present is BTS.
– Who has a black card in K-pop?
K-pop stars with black credit cards are V, Jungkook, Jin, Jennie and G-Dragon.