EXO, Kim Soo Hyun, and Kim Yuna Top Forbes Korea Celebrity Top 40 Power Ranking for 2015

The annual Forbes magazine ranking of the top 40 Korean celebrities has just been released, fresh out of the oven and piping hot for perusal. As always, try not to get too worked up if your favorite oppa/unni or bias didn’t make the top 40 this year, it’s just one ranking albeit a very influential one that has a lot of clout and prestige in the entertainment industry. I felt like this year has a lot more athletes on the list than usual, while very few gagmen (i.e. variety MCs and comedians) made the list. The top three hit up one from each celebrity field – male idol group EXO takes the top spot followed by Kim Soo Hyun representing the actors and rounding out number three is figure skating queen Kim Yuna.

Some notable movers and shakers within the acting industry: Kim Soo Hyun and Jeon Ji Hyun rocketing to the top of the list thanks to You From Another Star when last year in 2014 both were middle of the pack, scandal plagued Lee Byun Heon and Han Hyo Joo gone, Lee Min Ho also dropped from the rankings after the Heirs surge petered out while his Heirs costar Park Shin Hye made the list for the first time thanks to Pinocchio as did Lee Jong Seok for that drama along with Dr. Stranger, Suzy taking a big tumble with no acting project last year but still holding on, and both Misaeng leads Im Shi Wan and Lee Sung Min squeezing in towards the end. Have fun parsing the list and keep any ensuing debate civil and sane, m’kay?

Forbes Celebrity 40 is determined by first taking the top most searched Korean celebrities of the year on Nate and ranking them based on the following 4 criteria:

1. Earning – appearance fees, CF, album/drama/movie income, reported overseas income.

2. Media exposure – number of appearances in the top 3 newspapers, covers of 8 magazines, sports pages.

3. Television exposure – CF model ranking, appearances on talk shows and variety shows.

4. Professionalism – TV ratings for actors/MCs, total audience for movie actors, Gaon digital and physical sales rankings for singers, competition results for athletes

Forbes Power Celebrity 40 for 2015:

1. EXO (singer)
2. Kim Soo Hyun (actor)
3. Kim Yuna (athlete)
4. Jeon Ji Hyun (actress)
5. Sohn Yeon Jae (athlete)
6. Lee Seung Gi (actor)
7. Ryu Hyun Jin (athlete)
8. Song Heung Min (athlete)
9. SNSD (singer)
10. Sistar (singer)
11. Park Ji Sung (athlete)
12. Lee Jong Seok (actor)
13. Girl’s Day (singer)
14. IU (singer/actress)
15. Choo Shin Soo (athlete)
16. Jung Woo Sung (actor)
17. 2NE1 (singer)
18. APink (singer)
19. Hyun Bin (actor)
20. BEAST (singer)
21. Yoo Jae Seok (gagman)
22. Ki Seung Young (athlete)
23. Big Bang (singer)
24. Super Junior (singer)
25. Lee Seo Jin (actor)
26. Kim Hee Ae (actress)
27. Ha Jung Woo (actor)
28. Lee Yoo Ri (actress)
29. Kim Woo Bin (actor)
30. Song Hye Kyo (actress)
31. Oh Seung Hwan (athlete)
32. Jo In Sung (actor)
33. Park Shin Hye (actress)
34. Suzy (singer/actress)
35. Im Shi Wan (actor)
36. Park Inbi (athlete)
37. TVXQ (singer)
38. Park Hyun Sik (actor)
39. Lee Sung Min (actor)
40. Park Tae Hwan (athlete)

For comparison, Forbes Power Celebrity 40 for 2014 (last year):

1. SNSD (singer)
2. Big Bang (singer)
3. Suzy (singer/actress)
4. Ryu Hyun Jin (athlete)
5. EXO (singer)
6. Choo Shin Soo (athlete)
7. TVXQ (singer)
8. SHINee (singer)
9. Kim Yuna (athlete)
10. IU (singer/actress)
11. Park In Bee (athlete)
12. Yoo Jae Seok (gagman)
13. Psy (singer)
14. Lee Seung Gi (actor)
15. CNBlue (singer)
16. Lee Byung Hun (actor)
17. Kim Soo Hyun (actor)
18. Infinite (singer)
19. KARA (singer)
20. Song Kang Ho (actor)
21. Lee Min Ho (actor)
22. Song Heung Min (athlete)
23. Kim Tae Hee (actress)
24. 2NE1 (singer)
25. Hwang Jung Min (actor)
26. Girl’s Day (singer)
27. Song Joong Ki (actor)
28. Lee Bo Young (actor)
29. Yoo Joon Sang (actor)
30. Lee Dae Ho (athlete)
31. Ki Seung Young (athlete)
32. Park Ji Sung (athlete)
33. Shin Dong Yup (gagman)
34. Jeon Ji Hyun (actress)
35. Han Hyo Joo (actress)
36. Baek Ji Young (singer)
37. Jang Dong Gun (actor)
38. Kim Jun Hyun (gagman)
39. Park Chu Young (athlete)
40. Kim Min Hee (actress)


EXO, Kim Soo Hyun, and Kim Yuna Top Forbes Korea Celebrity Top 40 Power Ranking for 2015 — 82 Comments

  1. ahahha.. seriously some people are believing this list. and the LMH part makes me laugh koala got rustled and calling heirs failure lol.

    It dosen’t hang the fact that KWB is bigger ljs –> more fans, cfs and everything take that ljs fans..

    • @melissalionel
      Where is it stated in this article that Heirs is a failure??? Heirs was in 2013, so it is not counted in the 2014 list.
      LMH did not make the list simply because he did not have a drama or movie project airing in 2014 -> Zero TV or movie audience in 2014. He was very busy with filming his movie most of the year -> reduced media exposure. He does not appear on variety or talk shows -> neglible TV exposure. Don’t worry, with movie & TV projects in 2015, he will reappear on the 2015 list.
      Pls do not instigate a fanwar with thoughtless remarks. Thank you.

      • dont worry dude, a lot of A-list stars did not made the list. they are probably discrete with their earnings,but that doesnt make them poorer than those on the list!

      • Hahaha, ocoala and her “obsessive love” for Minho , it’s here again!

    • LJS is higher. He did a lot of the movie and dramas in 2014. In other hand, KWB spend most of the time filming. But KWB more marketable (LJS has more fans (pretty boys still big trend), but KWB more well known around general people (all ages) thanks to Friends 2). Look at the sales. KWB on the top 10.

  2. Ahhh only jung woo sung and ha jung woo from movie stars are on the list. Was expecting either choiminshik or song kangho or hwang jung min to be in the list because of their movie succeses last year especially CMS from rosring currents. I guess the movie stars have lesser tv exposure…!

    But a little curious at the tally scores for last year snd thid year seeing thst ha jung woo is not in it last year.

  3. Wow where did all the KWB/LJS animosity? I thought their fans were friends?

    I don’t know, maybe I missed a memo or something, because who cares if LJS is “marketable” (suddenly everyone is a marketing guru), or if KWB is “more popular” than PSH or the amount of CFs. All of them are buying buildings in Gangnam while you guys waste your time in petty fights over oppa and unnie.

    Whatever lol

    • I think that was just a LMH fan up there trying to cause trouble lol, Jongsuk and Woobin fans don’t care. Jongsuk and Woobin are both hard workers and supportive towards each other, we’ve never felt the need to compare since they both deserve their success.

  4. LMH not being there isn’t that shocking to me. The bulk of his fame has never been in his home country and Kim Woo Bin got more buzz from Heirs than he did in SK. I’m sure people will disagree with that tho…

    Suzy being so low is kind of surprising, but she did nothing but CFs this year. Lee Sung Min is impressive!

    But I’m cool with the list. My bias did well. 😀

    • After Heirs in 2013, KWB also got a lot of buzz in 2014 from his rather successful movie The Con Artists, his web series, and several variety appearances.

  5. Wow KSH you are really the best since you dont have project for 1 and half year but still soaring high.. grab the new kbs variety drama the Producer please.

    • The 2015 power ranking list is for earnings, exposure, ratings & audience for 2014. YFAS is one of the major reasons KSH moved from no. 17 to no. 2 in 2014. In fact, KSH has been on this list for at least the last 4 years, since TMETS. And with his new drama project in 2015 and ever increasing popularity, I think he will remain at the top end of the list for 2015 & beyond.

    • he has so many CFs and he’s in media a lot so that says it all. I hope Producer has good writing and directing since I m quite convinced with current potential casts (except for IU). He will leave on high note, if Producer does well in terms of rating and overseas popularity.

  6. nice to see my biases on the list PSH, LJS and KSH..my felicitations to all.. not surprised with lmh , hes not that popular in his home country ..

  7. I’m surprised that Lee MinHo…”the king of CFs” and the star with the largest number of fans in social media is not in the list at all…quite shocking in fact.

    Even though he didn’t have a drama last year, the guy was everywhere…and…I was starting to get over saturated by his overexposure.

    • It’s not that shocking though. He popularity hasn’t been his hometown for a while, even during Heirs era… KWB got a lot more exposure than him.

  8. Minho agency never leak report about his income in SK, so 0 income wouldn’t make it to the list. I’m his fans, and I know he got a lot of cf last year and added some new ones. My poor little thing didnt make it to the list. lol. Let say he’s not as famous as other ’87 stars to make everyone happy. ahahahaa..

    • chill out LJS, KWB, fans, minho is not as famous as what you think he is. even probably PSH more famous than him.

      • no I’m not, are you afraid minoz will attack you? PSH is indeed more popular after pinocchio. Are minoz that scary in front of you, people? we like PSY even LJS and KWB, because minho also take them as friends. In one of his interview he even mention LJS with jongsuki, means he’s familiar with LJS. and KWB? he attended his movie premier. Stop dragging minho name, he’s not making to the forbes list.

      • ugh.. a typical trolling to bring hate to actress. no PSH isn’t more famous than him. both psh and her fans are aware of it. I don’t know why some people try to make her look bad. her fans are finally learning to be realistic but this trolls…
        can you just stop this fake defending and leave this topic peacefully?

    • Yeah, most celebs aren’t leaking income information either. Just a few do who media play and exaggerate, but the majority don’t tell Forbes what they make.

      He’s more famous than most 87ers outside SK, but inside nope, he’s just not.

      • let say, both outside and inside he’s not that famous for this 2014. He’s famous only among minoz, his fans. This popularity will fade away, once other actors play in a hit drama, the other will be forgotten. So, since he didnt do drama last year, I’ll say he’s not as famous of many people think. In any other discussion, stop putting his name. Just focus on people in forbes list, they are obvious make it to the list.

      • And why again is LMH ‘s name drag in the comments section?He is not in the list ocoala made her remark then why most of the comments are about MinHo and how popular he is or not in SK?
        You have 40 others name in there to mention and celebrate the fact that they make it.I do not see the need why you should spend your time posting for an actor that he is not there.

      • that’s why @marthoula, I try to urge them to celebrate their victory by saying that Minho is not that popular(forget about Minho for a while). They used to drag Minho’s name in many Chinese articles, now Forbes. I dont understand why can they just be happy for their fav actor without bringing others down or say they’re not popular in or out Korea. Wake up people, popularity will not last forever, the most important thing is their consistency and their existence in entertainment world for a long time. Why dont you celebrate your winning while your fav on top now, or promote them with a more respectful way. Hope they can be more focus on their fav rather than talk non sense about Minho.

    • ksh agency did not leak his income also. there is article that both ksh n lmh agencies deny the report that they are paid with the highest payment and both company further clarify they never expose ksh n lmh income but why ksh is still top this forbes korea?

      • just because that reports had to do with their payments regarding the China and ONLY THE CHINA cfs and appearances.Both agencies denied them.
        As for the incomes from Korea I can speak only for LMH because as his fan I know only about him.Starhaus his agency never speaks for his income.Please before post anything , post the whole article and not only what you want to write.

  9. Happy for KSH, LJS and KWB!
    LMH is not in the list… shocking as he is not as powerful as I thought.
    JKS is also not there may be due tax scandal.

      • Even he is not there but he is rich enough to own 2 buildings in Korea and 1 property in Japan as far as I know)

      • @JJ did I ever say he isn’t rich? LOL I’m sure money is all he wants as an artist, not the love of his own country 🙂

  10. The film industry and even most media circles are not in love with LMH and TBH the boy got to big for his own good its the overnight star thing that happened to him after BOF. and the other actors/actresses don’t like him either. which resulted in him being lonely in the K-ent. The media definitely perfers KSH over him and thats why they keep reporting about him.

    Korea had to chose one son since the LMH-KSH rivalry kicked off and they chose KSH over him. K-media babysittes KSH and China adopted LMH.

    LMH dosen’t need his name on papir cuz his LMH. forbes who or korea who? LMH is global thats why you see his GB even changed for Chinese audience and they welcome him in many asian countries like king.

    • is it really true? I dont think so. Minho never to keen on talk about his income or anything related, that’s why he’s not that interesting to be a headline news. One thing for sure, K-minoz love him. Lonely? I’ve never heard about this, he’s only not to open about his private life. Let’s end this discussion about Minho here, because he’s not related to the article at all. I just hope people stop attached Minho’s name to something that he’s not interested in talking to public.

  11. Whether you like him or not? Ofcourse I’m speaking about the powerful LMH.

    The entire K-ent world of celebrities joined are not more famous then LMH worldwide.

    50mio SNS fans, countless CFs 30+, tall and good looking. Being the man himself who inspired Dramafever opening doors and invited the world to see K-drama.

    biggest K-celebrity of all times and you should all accept your Hallyu king and his not going anywhere..

    • Are you really Minho fans? if you are, you’ll know what he likes and what he doesnt like. Have you ever heard the man himself talking about his money and his greatness? Please respect him. I’m sure he’ll appreciate if his fans never talk about his income and his private life. Please at least be more considerate for him.

      • yeah that’s funny, I will tell Minho that you drag his name in forbes article, ahahaaa… Minho ssi, this little cindi keep mentioning your name with your weibo followers. He must be amused by this. Nice try cindi, I miss him in drama land so I’m little bit sensitive when people mention his name in unrelated article. peace. Remember? dont mention his name, or else I’ll haunt you, ahahaa

      • I just wanted to provoke discussion for fun sake but people are serious here so I apologize.. just because minho is a respectful person or I wouldn’t

    • @cindi
      “not more famous than LMH worldwide”….lmbo, he relevant only around asia, but Kpop + kdrama NOT mainstream to general public outside of asia; LMH just got minoz fanbase.that’s it

  12. What did you guys say KWB and even JCW is more popular than LJS? Let’s see. Jong suk is 12. Woobin is 29. How did you call JCW is famous ridiculously? Both of pinocchio leads are in the list.I’m so proud of them. The guy called LMH name? Maybe his name is written with white ink in white paper. Haha

  13. Congratulations.I like many of them in the list. But I have my own favorites. Infinite(7)my present favorite Kpop group/members as actors & singers. Yay! Happy to see Im Si Wan & Park Hyung Shik of ZE:A

  14. Glad that jongsuk also in that list…even he has high ranking…people who say he is not marketable can eat their own words now

  15. I am just surprised seeing the never ending feud between lee jong suk and kim woo bin fans. Everybody know that those two are good friends. But there is so much animosity between their fans. Just now in another article they were fighting and now here the debate continues. Sigh..

    Anyways,I am happy that my biases has made it to the list. But even if not, I am gonna love them. Nothing’s gonna change that. 🙂

    • honestly in Korea, if they are JongSuk’s fan its automatic that they are WooBin’s fan too… The dc are friends

    • Hardly. I have a feeling the ones throwing tantrums are butthurt lmh fans using kwb and ljs as proxy to discredit the list. I stan kwb but i love ljs and support his projects. They are both rising stars and fans don’t really have prides at stake yet. Unlike lmh and ksh fans. Lmh took quite a beating in china when it comes to popularity ever since ywcfts hit it big there.

  16. it is completely normal for suzy to be in this position because she was inactive this year she only did commercials and photoshoots and a couple of tv appearances other then that she had no drama no film no album no osts she was laying low so she was under the radar but if you took the sales criteria that means in terms of money she is placed at 9th place for the list of forbes for that criteria because the list of forbes is a based on 4 four lists each one represent a criteria which is pretty amazing because she only did commercials unlike the others in the 4 lists which had different kind of activities and bigger in both number of activities and members

  17. tsk tsk ..people just can’t stop fighting regading LJS and KWB . both of them are good friends. if they know how bad their fans are fighting with each other , how bad would they feel …. sometimes i find it’s childish how certain fans troll people by calling others with inappropriate names etc. stop fighting already , will ya…

  18. Who are all these people saying LMH is not popular in Korea lmao? Just look at last year list he was on number 21. how did ho got there if not for his popularity? I`m not even his fan, i actually find both him and KSH extremely overrated, but the fact is he is still very popular in Korea. He had no acting project in Kora in 2014 and was absent from the media so thats why he is out of top 40. But he will be there next year, you LMH fans don`t have to worry.

    That said PSH had two acting projects and a lot of attention in Korea , plus a lot of CFs, and still is ranked rather low. That is more surprising to me.

    Also SNSD falling out of top 5 ,those scandals really affected them.

    • Shinhye has Pinocchio last year and Tailors flopped hard so I’d only count one
      Low? How many actress do you see in this list and how old are they?
      Suzy didn’t have a drama either but she is still is the list…
      I don’t think LMH is not popular but you don’t need to bring down other to make some other look good.
      Actors are usually more popular than actress so I’m just glad that she is doing well or rather keep outdo herself

  19. lee min ho is the most popular kdrama actor in Africa.while PSH is the most popular .actress in Africa too.well,PMY was #1 after CH,but after Heirs with PSH,she has become the most popular girl in Africa.

    • ah really? I’m a Minho fan but I didn’t even know that, lol. Anyway, it’s always great to hear good news about Minho. Thanks.

  20. Oops! I don’t take this ranking seriously although Forbe is claimed to be influential in the entertainment industry. I have no say about actor/actress ranking. But music?????? Yup online search of EXO must rank top because ppl are curious about the scandal riddled boy group. They lip sync almost all the time, overrated!

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