SM Entertainment CEO Lee Sung Su Speaks Out Against Lee Soo Man In Detailed Video

SM Entertainment CEO Lee Sung Su has released a video speaking out against former chief producer Lee Soo Man.

On February 16, Lee Sung Su uploaded a video to his personal YouTube channel sharing his statement about SM Entertainment and Lee Soo Man, revealing that this is only the first part of a series of videos.

According to Lee Sung Su, Lee Soo Man established the international production company CTP (CT Planning Limited) using $1 million of capital, similar to how he previously established the Korean company Like Planning. He changed the contract structures for the music distribution of WayV, SuperM, and aespa so that they go through the Chinese and U.S. labels as well as CTP. Normally, SM and the relevant labels should settle their profits with each other first, and then Like Planning (Lee Soo Man) should receive 6 percent of what SM gets. However, Lee Soo Man directed separate contracts with each label, and with CTP, he is receiving 6 percent before SM and the labels settle their profits. Lee Sung Su alleges that Lee Soo Man did this to evade the Korean National Tax Service. The CTP was not formed just for that exchange but for unlimited global expansion and an attempt to obtain production royalties in advancing abroad.

CTP is a separate overseas corporation from Like Planning. The contracts between CTP and overseas labels are still active—and will continue to be active—and are completely different from the producing contract between SM and Like Planning that was terminated last year.

As the producing contract with Lee Soo Man was coming to an end in December 2022, Lee Soo Man ordered not to reveal any of the future plans regarding producing that were discussed. The management and production teams were preparing to launch an organizational restructuring based on a multi-production center.

However, the contract expiration did not mean a new start for SM. In January 2023, Lee Soo Man more openly expressed the pursuit of his private interests. He ordered the following:

  • Announce through the press that the artists need Lee Soo Man.
  • Use the employees to instigate that Lee Soo Man is needed.
  • Lee Soo Man and SM temporarily set a consulting contract domestically and justify Lee Soo Man’s activities.
  • All the albums and artists promoted abroad should sign a contract with Lee Soo Man’s overseas cooperation CTP, or SM should sign a second producing contract with Lee Soo Man in Korea.
  • Make a response team for Lee Soo Man even if it takes 10 billion won (approximately $7.8 million) to achieve this.
  • Make it so that the company does not make profits without Lee Soo Man, so find a plan to lower first quarter profits.
  • After releasing the music that completes production in December, consider delaying mid-to-late February and March releases until April.

Investment firm Align Partners requested management structure reform from SM Entertainment and said they would reveal information that would lower the reputation of the company and Lee Soo Man if reform is not achieved. This information was about Lee Soo Man receiving 6 percent of sales from already released albums for 70 years and 3 percent of management sales from 2023 for three years, totaling to about 80 billion won (approximately $62 million), although the producing contract between Lee Soo Man and SM Entertainment had already ended.

Lee Sung Su felt ashamed and messaged Lee Soo Man about becoming independent from him. In the video, Lee Sung Su includes a voice recording of Lee Soo Man persuading people to take a definite stance and to support him.

In another part of the video, Lee Sung Su mentions that Lee Soo Man pushed for personal projects such as the construction of a “smart entertainment city” or “music city” and K-pop festivals promoting sustainability and tree planting. The music city Lee Soo Man was envisioning was also linked to a casino, and he also discussed the legality of using marijuana so that tourists can enjoy the casino and festival even more. According to Lee Sung Su, Lee Soo Man wanted to utilize SM artists to market “Lee Soo Man’s world” created in countries across the world.

Lee Sung Su also shared that aespa was originally scheduled to make a comeback on February 20 with their first concert scheduled for February 25 and 26, but their comeback was postponed due to Lee Soo Man’s stubbornness. Lee Soo Man ordered SM Entertainment’s A&R team and producer Yoo Young Jin to include lyrics about tree planting, sustainability, and ESG in all important songs released by the agency. This included aespa’s comeback track with various phrases unrelated to K-pop such as “just sustainability,” “at least one degree lower,” “coexistence,” greenism,” and “tree planting” in the lyrics. As the song was completely disconnected with aespa’s team colors and concept, the employees struggled to produce relevant content, and Lee Sung Su says that the aespa members also teared up because they were upset. Lee Sung Su and the COO decided that it would be best to postpone aespa’s comeback, and they are now preparing with new music.

Lee Sung Su concludes the video by asking all the viewers to protect SM.

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