A few months back Lee Soo-man appeared on stage at the 2021 World Cultural Industry Forum and boasted of his formative role in the Korean pop industry. “K-pop started with SM Entertainment,” he declared. But already the K-pop firmament is getting ready for a new king.
SM Entertainment has formally put a 20% stake up for sale, including Lee’s own 18% holding. Major conglomerates are getting ready to take up the mantle, with the aim of propelling themselves and K-pop further onto the world stage.
Lee and his SM Entertainment were indeed early pioneers with first-generation K-pop acts including H.O.T., TVXQ, BoA and Girls’ Generation. With rival agencies YG
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