Cover These are the most expensive Korean dramas to ever been produced (Photo: Courtesy of Netflix)

From Vincenzo, Crash Landing On You to Kingdom, these Korean dramas cost a fortune to produce

It's no secret that producing a Korean drama costs a lot. The lavish production designs, A-list cast, detailed set designs, special effects, filming locations and fashionable outfits are needed to create a top-tier drama. That's why Netflix is investing US$500 million on original Korean content alone.

With more and more people jumping on the K-drama mania, we can expect more Korean dramas to also spend more on production costs to deliver the best production quality possible. Here, we break down some of the popular Korean dramas with the highest production costs whether it's fantasy, historical or romance.

Editors note: This list is not exhaustive as a lot of Korean dramas come out every year with high production costs. For instance, a lot of Korean dramas are estimated to cost 20 billion won but only a few are included in this list. The estimated cost is based on the production's own disclosed figures.

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1. Arthdal Chronicles

Arthdal Chronicles is the first historical fantasy Korean drama so it's expected that production cost is high. The show premiered when Game of Thrones was still a hit, another show that's known for its expensive production from special effects, costumes to set designs and which Arthdal Chronicles seemed to have taken inspiration from. The Korean drama stars A-list actors from Song Joong-ki, Kim Ji-won to Jang Dong-gun and was divided into three parts which increased the cost of production.

Filming was also partly done in Brunei while a set was built specifically for the drama in Osan, Gyeonggi Province. It's estimated that each episode of Arthdal Chronicles cost about three billion Korean won.

Estimated cost: 54 billion Korean won

See also: 5 Things To Know About "Space Sweepers"—Netflix's First Korean Space Movie

2. Mr. Sunshine

Period drama Mr. Sunshine also cost quite a fortune—its total 24-episode run is estimated to be around 40 billion Korean won. Most of the production cost was spent on recreating the historical elements, set designs, special effects of some historical locations and of course, the talent fees for its star-studded cast.

Lee Byung-hun who headlined the drama and have appeared in several Hollywood movies was rumoured to have been paid 150 million won per episode. It seems that the expensive budget paid off as the drama received critical acclaim for its acting, cinematography and retelling of South Korea's past.

Estimated cost: 40 billion Korean won

See also: Vincenzo: All The Jewellery Worn By Jeon Yeo-Bin In The Korean Drama

3. Kingdom 1 & 2

Kingdom is another historical drama that cost quite a fortune. But the elements of horror (zombies) might have increased the production cost. One episode of Kingdom is estimated to cost three billion Korean won which is why each season only has six episodes each. The historical horror drama also stars notable celebrities including Ju Ji-hoon, Bae Doona and Ryu Seung-ryong.

Series director Kim Seong Hun revealed to Variety that the series was intended for eight episodes but they overspent the budget so it was scaled down to six episodes.

Estimated cost: 35 billion Korean won

See also: Exclusive: "Kingdom: Ashin Of The North" Cast And Crew Talk About The Netflix Special Episode

4. The King: Eternal Monarch

The King: Eternal Monarch made headlines when it was announced due to lead actor, Lee Min-ho's high salary for each episode—no doubt earning in a spot in the list of South Korea's highest-paid celebrities.

It was his comeback drama after finishing his military service and with the use of special effects for the fantasy elements as well as all the expensive cars, jewellery, horses, set designs that go with the royalty storyline, the production cost is bound to cost quite a sum. Also, the production team had to recreate the imaginary worlds but make it look a bit close to the city of Busan.

Estimated cost: 30 billion Korean won

See also: The Story Behind The Jewellery Worn On Netflix's "The King: Eternal Monarch

5. Sweet Home

Netflix original Korean series, Sweet Home based on the eponymous webtoon spent most of its budget on the special effects and CGI of the monsters, costing an estimated three billion Korean won per episode. The series is also helmed by popular director Lee Eung-bok who worked on smash hits, Descendents of the Sun, Goblin and Mr. Sunshine—all of which also had huge production costs.

Estimated cost: 30 billion Korean won

See also: 30 New Must-Watch Korean Dramas In 2021

6. Vagabond

The first non-fantasy and non-historical series on this list is Vagabond, an action drama that stars Suzy Bae, Lee Seung-gi and Shin Sung-rok. Most of the production budget series was spent on overseas filming fees as the series was filmed in Morocco and Portugal as well as the talent fees of its top stars.

Estimated cost: 25 billion Korean won

See also: Interview: "Sweet & Sour" Cast And Director Discuss The Netflix Movie

7. Legend of the Blue Sea

Another Lee Min-ho drama makes it to the list. The popular Korean actor stars Hallyu star, Jun Ji-hyun in Legend of the Blue Sea, a fantasy romance drama. It's not surprising that part of the production cost went to the star's pockets but the special effects of the mermaid, as well as the overseas filming in Spain and Palau cost a lot.

This was also Lee's last drama before his military enlistment as well as Jun's before her hiatus—both celebrities are among South Korea's highest-paid stars.

Estimated cost: 22 billion Korean won

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8. Crash Landing On You

Mega K-drama hit, Crash Landing On You had a budget of about 20 billion Korean won which allowed part of the series to be filmed in Switzerland, a country known for its expensive prices. The drama also stars top actor Hyun Bin and actress, Son Ye-jin. Recreating the North Korea scenes as well as the lavish outfits that Son's heiress character wears definitely added to the huge budget too.

Estimated cost: 20 billion Korean won

See also: Son Ye-Jin Of "Crash Landing On You": Her Most Fashionable Looks

9. Vincenzo

Dark comedy-action drama, Vincenzo stars A-lister Song Joong-ki whose hefy paycheck definitely added to the production cost since he's one of the highest-paid stars per episode. While the drama didn't film overseas due to the pandemic, it did spend money on some special effects of Vincenzo's shenanigans such as scenes of explosions, not to mention the lavish suits and expensive watches he hears.

Estimated cost: 20 billion Korean won

See also: Exclusive: "Vincenzo" Star Song Joong-Ki Talks To Tatler About The Netflix Hit

10. Hotel Del Luna

All the glitz and glamourous clothes that IU sports in Hotel Del Luna must have cost a fortune. The fantasy series also had to incorporate some fantasy elements and special effects well as all the different set designs, guests stars and of course, fashionable outfits.

Estimated cost: 20 billion Korean won

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