It’s been greater than 3 many years since Soo-man Lee based SM Entertainment, certainly one of South Korea’s music companies identified for bringing K-pop to the world.

The leisure firm, initially based as SM Studio in 1989, turned one of many first to kickstart the worldwide Hallyu wave — higher often known as the Korean wave.

But Lee’s music was not at all times based mostly off Korean pop music.

“I became a singer when I was 19. Although I was famous, I realized that the audience was really quiet when I sang because I sang folk songs,” he advised CNBC’s Chery Kang in an interview for The CNBC Conversation.

SM Entertainment’s Soo-man Lee (fourth from the best) posing with K-pop supergroup SuperM.

Gabriel Olsen | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“But when foreign bands come to [South Korea to] perform, they completely took over the stage and fans went wild. When I went to check out the concert, it seemed like the fans were more enthusiastic than in mine,” stated Lee, who’s founding chairman of the corporate.

A imaginative and prescient for K-pop is born

Lee stated that is when he started to consider taking South Korea’s pop music to the world.

“As I studied in the U.S., I learned a lot and thought it would be nice to promote Korean songs and singers overseas. That’s the start [of SM Entertainment].”

Over the years, the 70-year-old developed a system he calls “culture technology” — by which he recruited and nurtured expertise in a scientific method of casting, coaching, producing, and administration.

The system is behind the track manufacturing of SM Entertainment’s K-pop high bands — equivalent to Super Junior, Girls’ Generation and Red Velvet. 

“There is a written ‘culture technology’ manual somewhere in my office,” he stated, explaining that it combines each tradition and know-how in a “logically formulized” method.

“The manual will allow employees to learn and transfer ‘know-how’ out of it. Because I’m an engineer, it is to be understood by logic. It lays out formulas,” Lee stated, sharing that he has a Master’s diploma in laptop engineering.

“So, I can say that I am an engineer rather than an artiste.”

We have to be at that world class degree, and we’re focusing on what’s lacking and how much distinctions we will make…

Soo-man Lee

Founder, SM Entertainment

Even as SM Entertainment’s music continues to go international, Lee says it is essential to repeatedly innovate and keep forward of the competitors within the music trade.

“We need to be at that world class level, and we are focusing on what’s missing and what kind of distinctions we can make” from different genres of music,” he told CNBC.

Lee works with producers and songwriters from the U.K. and U.S. on accompaniments, track songs, kick drum and bass, which he adapts to South Korean and Asian culture.

As for the significance of China’s influence in the K-pop industry, Lee admits that money will have a “highly effective affect,” but said he remains confident creativity that comes from producing will have “infinite worth.”

SM Entertainment has represented K-pop artists like boy band Super Junior.

Chung Sung-jun | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

The issue of mental health is something that remains a focus for his company, Lee says.

“‘Be humble, be variety and be the love’ is what we educate our abilities and other people in SM … Things are lots higher now and international administration firms are attempting to study it.”

Lee also said his company is “connecting them to counselors and docs in order that they’ll get assist anytime. We might not have the identical economies of scale like CNBC, however we discovered this stuff are crucial.”

Future of K-pop

As for the way forward for K-pop, “I feel the metaverse that everybody is speaking about today is the longer term,” Lee says.

SM Entertainment established a metaverse world called SM Culture Universe, and launched its first metaverse girl band, Aespa in 2020. The group is made up of four real-life members – Karina, Winter, Ning Ning, and Giselle – and their corresponding virtual counterparts.

SM Entertainment established a metaverse world called SM Culture Universe, and launched its first metaverse girl band, Aespa in 2020.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“SM Entertainment is constructing ‘Play-2-Create’… folks can uncover their artistic aspect and create within the metaverse. They will understand, ‘Oh, I can create. I could make music. I can create dance strikes. I could make garments. I can model artists.'”

To realize the concept of “Play-2-Create,” the company partnered with metaverse companies like The Sandbox earlier this year.

Players can create NFTs and games surrounding “Okay-content” in SMTOWN LAND, a virtual land in The Sandbox under SM Entertainment. NFTs are non-fungible tokens which are unique digital assets, like artwork and sports trading cards, that are stored using blockchain technology.

Lee believes that any country can create something as successful as K-pop, but the metaverse will be key.

“You can not create a style by copying K-pop. Everyone will view it as K-pop. Now, you might want to present it within the metaverse.”

Without looking at yourself in the mirror, you have no idea what you’d look like when dancing, even if you danced really hard…

Soo-man Lee

Founder, SM Entertainment

“I feel we simply have to let the followers turn into producers and customers on the similar time. Let them create… Young folks can have the massive satisfaction of creation and can find yourself creating large quantities of mental property and content material.”

For those aspiring to become K-pop artists some day, Lee has this piece of advice: “Self-assessment is essential.”

“Without your self within the mirror, you don’t have any concept what you’d appear to be when dancing, even for those who danced actually exhausting … It is when you may see and really feel what you do not do properly that you simply study.”

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