Previously on March 3, the Seoul Civil Court declared that SM Entertainment's attempt to issue new shares to Kakao without the approval of the company's largest shareholder, Lee Soo Man, was unlawful.
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Afterward, Lee Soo Man dedicated a lengthy letter addressed to the SM Entertainment family, as well as fans, explaining his decision to sell his shares to HYBE and bid farewell as the largest shareholder of the company he founded.
You can read Lee Soo Man's full letter below:
"To my beloved SM Entertainment family members, and to fans all over the world who love SM,
Ever since my debut as a ballad singer with disheveled hair in 1970, I have been in the public's eye.
I received overwhelming love as a singer and MC, and after I became a producer, the singers I created also received great love from the public. Which is why I feel so deeply apologetic indeed for the recent events surrounding SM Entertainment.
1989, when I first founded SM, I was a young start-up.
I loved music, and so I carefully considered what system would be useful to singers.
I built SM based on observations of the Western music industry.
Korean pop and the world of Korean idol singers was created using the business model of advanced countries, combined with a unique, talent nurturing model.
The achievements that K-Pop earned around the world through SM, JYP, YG, and HYBE were a miracle and a blessing to South Korea.
And in that time, since Hyun Jin Young and H.O.T to BoA, TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls' Generation, SHINee, EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and all the way up to aespa, my youth has long passed.
The SM Entertainment of 'post-Lee Soo Man' has been a long concern of mine. Entertainment takes place in the world of creativity.
I believed that it was not right to simply hand over SM Entertainment to my children or family, I strongly felt that I needed to leave it in the hands of the 'best' in this very industry.
If there are governance issues in SM Entertainment, those issues need to be addressed. If SM needs management experts to improve performance, then let them take the reigns.
Well, for me, the 'best' is producing. Producing takes place in a world of creativity and passion, where one must endure countless attempts and failures day and night until the moment that a star is born.
It is a world behind the scenes, where producers discover and nurture stars who can run into the hearts of fans and draw out their voices, their tears, their emotions, and their hopes.
Without the public, there is no star, and without a star, there is no producer, and without a producer, the music industry cannot succeed. This is true in the opposite way as well.
The past 2 years marked my search for the 'best' for SM Entertainment. Simultaneously, I urged that management of SM to prepare for the era of 'post-Lee Soo Man'. I had already decided that I would be stepping down from my stage at SM.
Many buyers made offers for SM, including HYBE, Kakao, investment companies, corporations, and even overseas investors; they came to me, seeking to buy the company.
To me, the 'best' option was HYBE. While it's true that HYBE was a competitor of SM, it's also true that the success of BTS is the pride of South Korea.
HYBE chairman Bang Si Hyuk is a music producer like me, who has lived through days of hunger and need. He was stuck in the practice room, living off of cheap food with his trainees who dreamt of becoming singers, and he roamed the country seeking investors who would help him.
He spent his life crazy about music, and he achieved a great feat through BTS.
I felt that he had the same amount of affection toward his artists as I did toward mine.
Many of you wanted to know why I chose HYBE, and this is my reason.
I intend on bringing the first act of my life, the act I spent as the appendix of SM, to a close now, as to move on to the second act.
My next act is the place where technology meets culture. I will take haphazard steps toward that place.
I would like to say this to the SM Entertainment family members, and to the current management.
I have no regrets about the days I spent with you all.
SM was a challenge, SM was happiness, and SM was a blessing in my life.
To the artists who put their trust in me, I would like to say this.
I met you, filled with dreams, and made music throughout the sweet and bitter times. You, who poured every bit of your energy into the tips of your fingers and toes to put on the stage you yearned for, you were my teachers.
I pay you my respect, I am proud of you, and thank you."
The news of the recent court ruling and Lee Soo Man's letter were not well-received by Korean netizens. Some commented,
"All you're really trying to say is that HYBE is the company that will continue to pay you even after you've 'formally retired'."
"I just hope that he pays his dues for the tax crimes he committed."
"I have a lot I want to say too... unfortunately I don't have money like you, old man, so I'm going to keep silent."
"Don't act like we don't know that you're the one who created this big mess in the first place."
"And this is what happens when money rots you to the bone, kids."
"I don't know about anything else but can you not defile BTS's name with your filthy words."
"Apparently your second act is to create theme parks with drugs and casinos?"
"I'm so confused... Is this a letter to the SM family or is it a love letter to HYBE?"
"Thanks for confirming that SM Entertainment meant absolutely nothing to you other than your fountain of gold."