SM Entertainment‘s founder Lee Soo Man is known as one of the creators of K-Pop, as he is the mastermind producer behind some of the very OG idol groups that kickstarted the K-Pop sensation. With that said, many have learned to trust Lee Soo Man’s instincts and ventures when it comes to K-Pop-related endeavors — all except for his most recent statements.
Back in February 2021, Lee Soo Man featured on tvN‘s Monthly Connect where he discussed the past, the present, and the future of K-Pop. With his veteran knowledge about the topic, many were intrigued by his interview and his answers. Four months following his interview, however, the SM Entertainment founder has become the center of scrutiny for a few of his statements.
When he was asked about the future of K-Pop, Lee Soo Man did not hesitate to mention China, where he discussed his beliefs about K-Pop’s “second revival in China.”
K-pop will have its second revival in China. It is an era where we have to go to China to produce and create content so that it can become number 1 in the world. There are many talented individuals there.
— Lee Soo Man for “Monthly Connect”
He also mentioned his desire to personally enter China, along with JYP Entertainment‘s Park Jin Young and HYBE‘s (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) Bang Si Hyuk to produce top-quality content that would be ranked first in the world. Lee Soo Man also shared during the interview his beliefs about China successfully becoming the “Hollywood of Asia,” if they allow Korean producers to enter their market.
While these thoughts were shared from his professional perspective, his statements became the very target of intense backlash from the Korean public. A netizen uploaded Lee Soo Man’s interview onto an online community, which quickly went viral. Almost 2,000 comments gathered under the post within just a few hours.
Thousands of netizens expressed their anger with the SM Entertainment founder, calling him a “traitor” and a “betrayer” as they shared even more harsh comments under the original post.
- “At this point, if someone told me he’s not just an honorary Chinese person, but a real Chinese person I’d believe them.”
- “He just stabbed us all in the back.”
- “Why is he being like this? Did China pay him or something?”
- “Hey old man, are you a traitor? If you like China so much, go to China.”
- “It’s not ‘Korea could become the center’ but rather, ‘China must become the center and Korea can help aid in that process.’ Maybe this is the way he can make the most profit. The high population is making him turn a blind eye.”
- “He’s a f*cking traitor.”
- “This is the reason why I don’t associate with those who like SM artists. He’s just Chinese at this point.”
- “The way he has no conscience or dignity in front of money is pathetic. It’s disgusting.”
- “Is he crazy?”
This is not the first time that Lee Soo Man became the center of negative attention. He previously made headlines for different controversies, such as his alleged tax evasions in 2014 and 2021, and for embezzling company funds back in 2002, which ultimately led to his arrest.
SM Entertainment nor Lee Soo Man have yet responded to the backlash they have been receiving for his Monthly Connect statements.