Lee Soo-Man
Robert Kenney/AP Images
Korea (South)
2020

SM Entertainment

Lee
Soo-Man

Founder / Chairman

A former folk musician who studied computer engineering in California in the 1980s, Lee returned to Korea reportedly inspired by MTV and the Jackson Five. There, he sought to create highly choreographed idol groups with a Korean sound and then germinated them through a house agency built on long contracts and multidisciplinary training. Lee enjoyed success with the 1996 launch of boy band H.O.T., which spawned powerful imitators (notably JYP and YG Entertainment). SM quickly became the firm to beat, with groups including TVXQ and EXO going on to pan-Asian and later U.S. success. While the spotlight these days is on Big Hit Entertainment-managed BTS, Lee’s SuperM, dubbed the Avengers of K-pop, is built around seven established multinational acts, and so the father of K-pop remains highly influential.

Career

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

Education

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

Variety Honors

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

Philanthropy

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News from Variety

K-Pop Powerhouse SM Entertainment, Home to NCT 127, SuperM and EXO, Inks With CAA

K-Pop Powerhouse SM Entertainment, Home to NCT 127, SuperM and EXO, Inks With CAA

Just weeks after the Korean boy band SuperM held a showcase in Los Angeles, their management company, SM Entertainment, announced that it has signed with CAA for representation in all areas. Founded in 1995 by Soo-Man Lee — one of Variety’s 2019 International Power Players — SM Entertainment’s roster also includes K-pop luminaries NCT 127 (pictured above), EXO, Girls’ Generation, Super Junior and Red Velvet.“It is a great pleasure working together with the largest entertainment and sports agency in the...

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