Lee Soo-Man
Robert Kenney/AP Images
Korea (South)

SM Entertainment


Founder / Chairman

Lee is a major force in the global music industry as founder of leading K-pop label SM Entertainment, which has a roster of artists that includes Super Junior, Girls’ Generation, SHINee, Red Velvet, SuperM, NCT, EXO and Aespa, as well as TV shows (“K-Pop Goes Hollywood”) and the popular fan-to-artist direct messaging app Dear U Bubble. In 2021, he put his 18.72% share of SM up for sale, as rumors swirled that South Korean media giant CJ ENM was close to buying a controlling stake in the company. In October 2021, it was reported that the massive cache of leaked financial documents known as the Pandora Papers revealed that Lee had set up eight paper companies in companies in Hong Kong to hide his wealth.


  • SM Entertainment
  • S.M. Studio
  • We Hate All Kinds of Violence


  • California State University–Northridge (CA, USA)
  • Seoul National University (Korea)

Variety Honors

  • 2017 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2018 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2019 Variety500 Honoree
  • 2020 Variety500 Honoree


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News from Variety

K-Pop and Korean Talent Industry Poised for Shakeup via SM Entertainment Stake Sale

K-Pop and Korean Talent Industry Poised for Shakeup via SM Entertainment Stake Sale

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...


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