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Why China Spent More On ‘Pinocchio’ Than ‘You Who Came From The Stars’

BY Julie Jones | Nov 24, 2014 09:36 AM EST

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"You Who Came From The Stars," starring Kim Soo Hyun and Jun Ji Hyun, was a big hit in China. But "Pinocchio," starring Lee Jong Suk and Park Shin Hye, is expected to become even bigger.

At least that's the conclusion you can draw from the export price being paid for each of the episodes of the currently running drama. Each episode is being sold for $280,000. "You Who Came From the Stars," which inspired a rush of trends in China, only sold for $35,000. And while the price of exporting k-dramas has risen rapidly since then, even "My Lovable Girl" only earned $200,000 per episode.

Because of its record-breaking price, the drama's name "Pinocchio, has become the most widely searched word on Chinese search portals.

There are several reasons that the drama may be going for such high prices. The top reason may be its stars. Park Shin Hye is very popular in China following the success of her drama "The Heirs." It accumulated one billion views on the Chinese video site Youku.com. She is the first Korean female actress to have more than five million Weibo followers and was given a Popular Foreign Actress Award at the Chinese Anhui TV Drama Awards.

And then there is Lee Jong Suk. His dramas "School 2013" and "I Hear Your Voice" were very popular in China but it was his role in "Doctor Stranger" that made him a Hallyu star there. The streaming rights for that drama were sold for $80,000 per episode and it was shown on both Youkou and Tudou sites. By July 7, 2014 it was streamed close to 400 million times. Because the drama was so popular in China it was edited into a film with an alternate ending more suitable to Chinese political views.

The themes of the drama are also popular in China, especially the theme of falling in love with an enemy's child. And the first episodes demonstrate strong production values and top-notch acting.

China is not the only country bidding to buy episodes of the drama.

"Pinocchio" tells the story of a reporter with the imaginary Pinocchio syndrome, meaning she cannot tell a lie or she starts hiccupping. That's Park Shin Hye's role. Her best friend is a reporter who is living a lie. Lee Jong Suk's character became a reporter to right a wrong done by other reporters to his family. The reporter who ruined his life is none other than the mother of Park Shin Hye's character.

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