The statement is drawing discussion about a future of K-pop without Lee Soo Man in it.
On February 17th, Lee Soo Man continued to be the talk of the town when Dispatch revealed a detail of his past embezzlement and investigation during his executive years at SM. As many truths are revealed and secrets come to light, netizens are left speechless. Nonetheless, the Chairwoman of the Korea’s Singer Association, Lee Ja Yeon released an even more shocking statement regarding the ongoing event.
Lee Ja Yeon expressed her concern about Lee Soo Man’s potential “demise” and said: “I’m worried that such confusion may affect K-pop and the music industry negatively. I can’t believe that he, who led K-pop to industrialize, has become a scapegoat as if he were a ‘product of the old era.’ This will leave a bad image in the overseas market.”
She also added, “Beyond SM’s management structural problems and conflicts, it will be a tragedy in the music industry if he steps down in disgrace.” In light of the statement by the Chairwoman of the Singer Association, a question remains, will the Korean music industry come into stagnation after “losing” Lee Soo Man?
Lee Soo Man’s list of achievements
Lee Soo Man was a famous singer in the 80s. In 1989, he founded SM Entertainment which climbed up to be one of the most successful entertainment companies in Korea that gave birth to many iconic groups and artists. Lee Soo Man also branched out into various elements, with the global performance brand, “SMTOWN LIVE,” as a notable example.
Lee Soo Man undoubtedly contributed a large part to the widespread popularity of the K-pop wave. SM was a rare company that derived success from their first-generation icons such as S.E.S, H.O.T, and BoA. SM reached pan-Asian popularity with DBSK and Super Junior and affirmed their influence in K-pop with the well-known girl group, Girls’ Generation.
With a firm foundation, Lee Soo Man carried on with experimental sounds and concepts for SM’s succeeding groups, namely EXO, Red Velvet, NCT and most recently aespa. A deep focus into visuals and vocal abilities, SM was able to gather some of the most powerful vocals with impeccable beauty that could not be found elsewhere. From a singer in the industry, Lee Soo Man was able to form a mighty and influential “empire” in the music field.
Controversial governance mindset
Despite his legacies, Lee Soo Man is controversial for his methods of artist management. In 2009, DBSK announced 3 out of 5 members left the group and sued the company for exploitation. EXO also found themselves in a similar situation.
Fans also noticed the intense schedules that Lee Soo Man arranged for his artists. Some groups were working around the clock with little time to spare while others were left behind without appropriate future direction, notably f(x).
From the recent exposé of CEO Lee Sung Soo and Dispatch, the audience is seeing Lee Soo Man in a different light. Behind many successes is a man who committed business fraud, tax evasion and deviant entertainment directions. aespa is currently in hot water due to Lee Soo Man.
The concepts for SM idols themselves are not fully optimized, as criticized by fans. aespa was gaining success with the metaverse concept but was often weighed against other groups. NCT’s current group format is making it difficult for the group to establish their individual image or gain a stable recognition.
It might be that, after “the fall” of Lee Soo Man, many other potentials in the field may have their chances to rise up and advance in the music industry.