It is really been more than 3 a long time considering the fact that Soo-male Lee started SM Leisure, just one of South Korea’s songs organizations regarded for bringing K-pop to the entire world.

The leisure business, initially established as SM Studio in 1989, became one particular of the 1st to kickstart the global Hallyu wave — superior known as the Korean wave.

But Lee’s new music was not always centered off Korean pop new music.

“I became a singer when I was 19. Although I was renowned, I understood that the viewers was seriously silent when I sang because I sang folk tracks,” he advised CNBC’s Chery Kang in an job interview for The CNBC Conversation.

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

Gabriel Olsen | Getty Pictures Amusement | Getty Photos

“But when overseas bands arrive to [South Korea to] complete, they wholly took around the stage and supporters went wild. When I went to check out out the concert, it seemed like the lovers had been a lot more enthusiastic than in mine,” said Lee, who is founding chairman of the company.

A eyesight for K-pop is born

Lee mentioned which is when he commenced to believe about having South Korea’s pop music to the environment.

“As I researched in the U.S., I discovered a good deal and assumed it would be great to encourage Korean tracks and singers overseas. Which is the get started [of SM Entertainment].”

Above the a long time, the 70-yr-previous developed a procedure he phone calls “culture engineering” — through which he recruited and nurtured expertise in a systematic way of casting, training, manufacturing, and management.

The system is at the rear of the track creation of SM Entertainment’s K-pop major bands — this sort of as Tremendous Junior, Girls’ Generation and Crimson Velvet. 

Why the Korean wave is more than BTS or Blackpink

“There is a penned ‘culture technology’ manual somewhere in my business,” he claimed, describing that it brings together equally lifestyle and engineering in a “logically formulized” way.

“The handbook will enable employees to learn and transfer ‘know-how’ out of it. Because I’m an engineer, it is to be comprehended by logic. It lays out formulation,” Lee explained, sharing that he has a Master’s degree in personal computer engineering.

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

We want to be at that environment class stage, and we are focusing on what is lacking and what type of distinctions we can make…

Soo-person Lee

Founder, SM Enjoyment

Even as SM Entertainment’s new music continues to go world-wide, Lee says it’s essential to continuously innovate and remain forward of the competition in the music industry.

“We will need to be at that earth class stage, and we are concentrating on what is missing and what sort of distinctions we can make” from other genres of audio,” he instructed CNBC.

Lee operates 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 tradition.

As for the significance of China’s affect in the K-pop industry, Lee admits that funds will have a “strong affect,” but claimed he remains self-assured creativeness that comes from making will have “infinite benefit.”

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

Chung Sung-jun | Getty Illustrations or photos Amusement | Getty Visuals

The concern of mental health is one thing that remains a aim for his business, Lee claims.

“‘Be humble, be type and be the love’ is what we educate our abilities and people today in SM … Things are a ton far better now and world management organizations are hoping to understand about it.”

Lee also stated his company is “connecting them to counselors and health professionals so that they can get assist whenever. We may perhaps not have the identical economies of scale like CNBC, but we acquired these things are really critical.”

Future of K-pop

As for the foreseeable future of K-pop, “I feel the metaverse that absolutely everyone is chatting about these times is the long run,” Lee states.

SM Amusement proven a metaverse world called SM Culture Universe, and launched its first metaverse girl band, Aespa in 2020. The group is designed up of 4 authentic-lifetime customers – Karina, Winter, Ning Ning, and Giselle – and their corresponding virtual counterparts.

SM Enjoyment recognized a metaverse earth known as SM Society Universe, and released its 1st metaverse girl band, Aespa in 2020.

Alexi Rosenfeld | Getty Illustrations or photos Enjoyment | Getty Illustrations or photos

“SM Amusement is setting up ‘Play-2-Create’… men and women can explore their inventive facet and generate in the metaverse. They will realize, ‘Oh, I can produce. I can make music. I can produce dance moves. I can make apparel. I can design and style artists.'”

To realize the strategy of “Participate in-2-Create,” the company partnered with metaverse businesses like The Sandbox before this yr.

Players can make NFTs and game titles encompassing “K-content material” in SMTOWN LAND, a digital land in The Sandbox below SM Entertainment. NFTs are non-fungible tokens which are exceptional digital assets, like artwork and athletics buying and selling cards, that are stored employing blockchain engineering.

Lee believes that any region can produce one thing as profitable as K-pop, but the metaverse will be crucial.

“You cannot make a genre by copying K-pop. All people will view it as K-pop. Now, you want to demonstrate it in the metaverse.”

With no on the lookout at you in the mirror, you have no idea what you’d appear like when dancing, even if you danced seriously hard…

Soo-male Lee

Founder, SM Entertainment

“I feel we just require to allow the enthusiasts grow to be producers and people at the identical time. Let them create… Youthful folks will have the substantial pleasure of generation and will finish up making enormous amounts of mental assets and content material.”

For all those aspiring to come to be K-pop artists some day, Lee has this piece of assistance: “Self-evaluation is extremely critical.”

“With no hunting at your self in the mirror, you have no strategy what you would seem like when dancing, even if you danced seriously really hard … It is when you can see and really feel what you don’t do nicely that you find out.”

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By Indana