Summary of SM’s “civil war”: constant accusations from CEO, delayed comeback, no encore concert
SM Entertainment has been a hot topic recently due to various controversies regarding the founder Lee Soo Man and his conflict with the current CEO,
In recent days, news of HYBE purchasing Lee Soo Man’s shares and becoming the largest shareholder of SM Entertainment is attracting more attention than ever. Meanwhile, fans of SM Entertainment, as well as the agency’s employees, are finding this difficult to accept. At the same time, disputes between Lee Soo Man and SM’s current management are directly affecting the company’s artists, making the fan community even more angry and worried.
On February 10th, it was reported that HYBE had purchased Lee Soo Man’s stocks, thus becoming the company’s biggest shareholder. Less than an hour later, HYBE confirmed the information, and said that they are currently in process of finalizing a contract, and at the same time revealed their plans to garner even more shares from other investors.
At the time, the public was deeply impressed by HYBE’s financial prowess, and under the impression that this was Lee Soo Man’s action against the current management’s plan to sell SM stocks to Kakao.
However, SM co-CEOs, Lee Sung Soo and Tak Young Joon condemned Lee Soo Man’s actions, believing that the founder has “destroyed” all the efforts and hard works of SM employees and artists. Lee Sung Soo even took to YouTube to expose Lee Soo Man’s numerous crimes, which range from tax evasions, plans of building space for casino and weed consumption, to questionable instructions towards artists. The National Tax Service are also hot on its tail to investigate SM Entertainment after these accusations.
Regarding these claims, Dispatch also published its own investigation, revealing that Lee Soo Man received a prison sentence after stealing SM’s money, and was even on the wanted list of Interpol. Meanwhile, in response, Lee Soo Man’s side only said, “We have nothing to say”.
On the other hand, while HYBE Labels announced that they will respect the creative freedom of SM Entertainment, 208 employees who head different departments show strong resistance to HYBE’s control over SM. They emphasized the importance of diversity in the Kpop industry, stressing that there should be no monopoly when it comes to music culture.
At the same time, various “evidences” about SM artists’ dissatisfaction with Lee Soo Man’s actions were also brought up. Previously, SM fully embraced the “Family” image, where artists show respect towards Lee Soo Man and even call him “teachers”. Now that the founder decided to sell the company to HYBE in retaliation to his loss of power, such respect is believed to have been lost.
“HYBE is Lee Soo Man’s savior, not SM’s savior”, CEO Lee Sung Soo affirmed in a recent video. At the same time, he expressed his plan to resign from the CEO position in SM’s shareholders’ meeting, which will be held in March. He also asked for Lee Soo Man to stop before things become too late.
The ongoing dispute at SM is taking a toll on the artists under the company. Fans worried that the plans previously made by SM would not be realized under HYBE, especially for groups that are on the rise such as aespa and NCT, who, at the same time, are HYBE’s rival groups.
Recently, SHINee Key gave updates on the current situations at SM, saying that he really wanted to carry out the encore concert but did not know whom to discuss the matter with at the company due to the present chaos.
Now that Lee Soo Man had disappeared from the company, aespa had to prepare an entire new song at the last minute. Fans expressed their frustration because it meant affecting the quality of aespa’s comeback.
Moreover, it is highly possible that the new girl group project by SM will be postponed due to the stressful situation at the holding.