For the last two decades, the kpop industry has been dominated by the Big 3 entertainment agencies, which are SM, YG, and JYP entertainment. SM entertainment was a pioneering company that was established in the year 1995, here SM stands for Lee Soo Man’s initials, the name of the person who came up with the exclusive idea of introducing Kpop to the rest of the world. SM also referred to as the Star Museum Entertainment company, has been a major contributor to the history of Korean pop, by debuting phenomenally brilliant Boy and Girl groups ranging from H.O.T to Aespa over the years. Therefore, How did SM lead the revolutionary Korean wave with a massive global fanbase? The following is SM’s tale.

February 14, 1989

SM Studio

Established in 1989

February 14, 1989
February 14, 1995

SM Entertainment

Established in 1995

February 14, 1995

First-generation idols

H.O.T(1996), S.E.S(1997)

Second-generation idols

TVXQ(2004), Super Junior(2005), Gril’s Generation(2007), SHINee(2008), F(X)(2009)

Third-generation idols

EXO(2012), Red Velvet(2014)

November 17, 2020

Introducing a new group

Aespa(2020) debut

November 17, 2020

Lee Soo-Man was pursuing his Masters’s degree in Computer Science at a University in California, there he was astonished by the influence of the renowned musician Michael Jackson, known as the King of pop who became his muse. He then returned to Korea in 1985 with an innovative perception, and this is where SM’s history begins. SM practically invented the Kpop trainee model, using which in 1996 SM debuted its first boyband H.O.T, which became a massive hit. Following the sensation caused by H.O.T, SM then successfully made the debut of S.E.S and BOA, in the year 1997 and 2000 respectively. For a long time, SM intended to enter the global market, and made attempts with H.O.T and S.E.S, however the hustle to reach the same failed. Owing to the unsuccessful attempts, SM now learned how to expand internationally using various rigorous techniques, as a result, BOA attained immense success in Japan.

Later, the KPOP industry stagnated in the early 2000s, causing significant damage to the SM entertainment which particularly lead to the downfall of groups such as Milk (2001) and Black Beat(2002) but Fortunately, SM saw another heyday in 2004 with the launch of a competent pop duo called TVXQ. Since then, SM has debuted second-generation idols with great popularity, notably Super Junior (2005), Girls’ Generation (2007) , Shinee (2008), and has established itself as Korea’s representative entertainment agency. With the debut of EXO in 2012, SM continued to flourish and announced the beginning of the third generation idol groups, pertaining to which Red Velvet (2014) and NCT (2016) all made a victorious debut, further demonstrating SM’s ability to put some of the finest artists together.

But then for 4 long years since NCT’s debut, SM didn’t launch a single Kpop group, therefore without a new idol debut, SM’s rise halted for a while. To make up for this unsatisfactory situation, Aespa, a female idol group was introduced last year (2020) and has yet again proven to bring huge success to SM entertainment because of their top-notch vocals and skills.

Meanwhile, with a large business diversification and a solid worldwide expansion, SM still thrives to remain one of Korea’s most important entertainment companies.



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