SM President Kim Young Min on SM′s Future
“I believe that SM’s artists will be popular for at least 3-5 more years. We will work hard to put all our artists on the stage of Tokyo Dome.”
It’s already as successful as any management company could be, but SM Entertainment (SM) still wants more. For three days, September 2-4, SM held a series of concerts titled ‘SM Town Live in Tokyo Special Edition’ at Japan’s largest indoor concert hall, the Tokyo Dome. A total of 150,000 fans, about 50,000 per performance, came to see the show and cheer on their favorite singers. Although the performance was successful enough to rewrite Hallyu history, SM’s President Kim Young Min says calmly that they “still have a lot to do in Japan.”
No one can turn back time. This is why everyone needs to live every moment at its best. This is also something Lee Je Hoon feels deep in his heart in the busiest moment of his life. He works hard, because he knows these moments won’t be coming back.
President Kim met with the press in a restaurant in Tokyo on September 3, the second day of the ‘SM Town Live in Tokyo Special Edition’. In the meeting he spoke of the reasons behind the performance’s success and the future of SM artists in Japan.
President Kim said, “This time all of the SM Entertainment artists had to come in to fill Tokyo Dome, but we will work hard to make each individual artist able to fill Tokyo Dome with an exclusive performance.”
When asked why he believes the SM artists are becoming increasingly popular in Japan, starting with BoA and continuing on to TVXQ and Super Junior, President Kim said, “I believe that SM’s music is popular because it is of a genre not found previously in Japan. SM′s production system lets the star shine.”
On the advantages SM has, he said, “A market for trained idols does exist. To bring an idol group to success, you have to invest about 2 billion won per group. If you count the fact that only about two groups in ten really succeed, you have to invest a total of more than tens of billions of won. There aren’t many agencies that can fund that money.”
The full interview with President Kim is as follows:
-What is the status of SM in Japan now?
“In the past we only worked with AVEX, but we′ve expanded our partner music labels to AVEX, Universal, EMI, etc. Shinee made its official debut, and Super Junior released a licensed version of its album. F(x) is also planning to make a debut in Japan soon. TVXQ was downsized to two members, but they are still forming a steady fanbase. The singers’ portfolios have become diverse, and stability has been secured through a better company lineup. We believe that next year the market will look even brighter. TVXQ formed a foundation in Japan with their activities. This foundation was what helped Shinee and f(x) make their debut in Japan.”
-How are the sales returns from Japan and other overseas markets?
“Overseas returns make up more than 50% of SM’s total profits.”
-What is the next step for SM’s plans in Japan?
“SM’s plans are simple. We will continue to hold exclusive concerts for TVXQ, Girl’s Generation, Super Junior, Shinee, etc. We will work hard to make each individual artist able to fill Tokyo Dome.”
-What effect do you hope SM Town’s family concert will have?
“Because it is a family concert, not an individual exclusive concert, the concert is SM’s channel, and SM’s media. If 150,000 people come to the performance it means that we’ve earned a channel with 150,000 viewers. This channel can become a gateway into SM for rookies. So through this channel we should be able to show the durability of our content.”
-Why are SM artists popular in Japan?
“SM’s music is popular because it’s of a genre not found previously in Japan. I believe that’s why it′s loved so much. SM’s music makes the star shine even more when it is accompanied by a performance. SM′s production system lets the star shine.”
-SM artists are also popular in Europe. What are the reactions of Europe and the overseas markets about SM Town’s performance in Paris or Shinee’s England Abbey Road showcase event?
“Shinee’s showcase in England must have been a big shock. Overseas record labels currently have their eyes fixed on Asia. SM has received offers from Europe to make a multi-cultural boy band by including young members recruited through auditions in Europe. There are audition programs like ‘American Idol’ overseas, in which they scout out single singers, but they don’t have a system through which they can produce a group. That we are receiving such proposals from other countries is very encouraging.”
-YouTube and SNS (Social Network Service) affect the spread of K-Pop a lot.
“SNS really helped a lot. But we did think about the sacrifices we would have to make because of pirating. SNS is just a marketing strategy； it′s not a very strong tool for music.”
-Where is K-Pop now and what do you think its future will bring?
“First of all, the current categories of K-Pop are vague. K-Pop is used to mean the Korean music that overseas fans listen to and love, but then where should we categorize, for example, a Chinese group being produced by SM? There’s no K-Pop in there, just SM. If you only look at idol groups, which are at the center of K-Pop, I believe they will be popular for at least 3-5 more years, and perhaps they will be even more everlasting. SM has the casting, training, and investment programs to build those groups. A market for trained idols does exist. To bring an idol group to success, you have to invest about 2 billion won per group. If you count the fact that only about two groups in ten really succeed, you have to invest a total of more than tens of billions of won. To use 2 billion won, you have to have funds of at least more than 3 billion won, and you have to have an artist that can earn that much. There aren’t many agencies that can fund that money.”
-There are anti-Hallyu sentiments spreading through Japan.
“There are. It’s meaningless to say there aren′t. There may be such movements against Hallyu, but you can’t bar the way of culture that way. You have to go against culture by making better content that can stand against it. If the anti-Hallyu sentiment becomes stronger, it’ll just make those who like Hallyu like it even more.”
Photo credit: SM Entertainment
Translation credit: Erika Kim
The actor used to be virtually unknown on the small screen, but after appearing in the rare popular romance film Architecture 101, he became one of the hottest actors in the scene.
His popularity from the film pushed more interest to him when it first became known that he would be appearing in the drama Fashion King, which aired its final episode on May 22.
The cast with Yoo Ah In, Shin Se Kyung and Girls’ Generation’s (SNSD) Yuri made viewers all the more expectant of the piece.
Now that the drama is over, however, Fashion King is said to be far from successful. The surprising death of Gang Young Gul (Yoo Ah In) and the shipwrecked story had viewers sighing in discontent.
No one, however, denied that the actors had worked hard for Fashion King.
“I was physically exhausted from shooting The Front Line, Architecture 101 and Fashion King on end. I always wanted to be at my best, so I feel sorry that I wasn’t in some moments. Dramas are like live mini-series. The scripts are rushed out, and some of the content is edited on the spot, so actors can’t help but feel sad about that. We had to act with the rushed script in our hands without knowing where the character would go next," said Lee Je Hoon.
"I think actors are incredible in that aspect. When I learned that this was the reality behind Korean dramas, I started to look up to those actors doing their best in these conditions," added Lee Je Hoon. "I worked hard with the thought that I shouldn’t be a burden but a help.”
Like he said, Lee Je Hoon worked hard in the conditions given him. He especially didn’t want to let down the trust of the directors and writers that had chosen him when he had nothing to show.
“Directors who give me scenarios when I’m nothing are giving me chances after seeing my potential. I have to work hard to prove that the chance they took on my potential paid off.”
He was a person who loved himself, and who worked harder to meet the expectations his loved ones sent him. He was an actor who worked not only for his own satisfaction, but who had a heart warm enough to care for those people who had chosen the actor Lee Je Hoon.
Of course, these thoughts serve as his means in becoming the actor he ultimately wants to become.
“I want to be an actor that makes people choose my pieces just because I’m in it. It won’t be easy to become a trustworthy actor, but because of that I feel more passionate toward my work," said Lee Je Hoon.
Because of this, even in the short break given him after working with three pieces in a row, he said he wanted to be in another as soon as possible. He found the time to work on another piece, and he’s looking toward another film premiere this year.
“I started up even though I was late because I just liked acting, but I’m given more concerns and goals as time passes. I need to continue to appear in front of the public as an actor, as a character, but sometimes I find limits or laziness sprouting inside myself. Whenever I see that, I try to organize my thoughts again. Now, I can’t talk about myself without talking about acting.”
He started acting at age 25, a late age in Korea, but for him, acting has already become something he can’t live without. Lee Je Hoon is now sprinting as fast as he can toward becoming an actor that does his best in any situation.
Photo credit: Hea Jung Min
Translation credit: Erika Kim