◆ Park Jin-young: taking Korean talent to the West
"I wanted to form a group that was young but appealed to all ages with music and dance," says Park Jin-young, the man behind the stellar success of the Wonder Girls.
Park debuted as a singer in 1994 and established JYP Entertainment in 1999. His company produced a list of K-pop stars like Rain, G.O.D, Byeol and Noel, and in 2007, Park launched his first group manufactured girl band, the Wonder Girls. "The concept of the Wonder Girls is similar to the one I had with G.O.D, who have sold over 6 million albums. As a producer, I want them to be trend leaders, and I want the singers to become the top Asian vocal group through hard training and long hours of practice," he says.
Everything about the Wonder Girls, from writing lyrics and composing music to costumes and choreography is controlled by Park's magic hands.
Not just for the Wonder Girls but for every choice he makes, Park claims personality matters most. "I don't just choose people with talent. Once chosen, they will have to spend a long time with me, and that is why I base my criteria on their personality and compatibility with my own. What is more important than singing and appearance is the person itself. Singing ability alone doesn't captivate audiences, it's the charm that wins hearts."
Park has several new singers in his stable who are about to launch their debut albums in the U.S., like Min and G-Soul. His ability to discover new talent and his productions have won him worldwide recognition.
◆ Lee Soo-man: promoting Korean talent in the East
"People in their 30s and the 40s are emerging as the main cultural consumers, and Girls' Generation specifically targets the men in that age group," says Lee Soo-man (53), CEO and producer for SM Entertainment. "Likewise, Shinee targets women in that generation." Lee debuted as a singer in 1971 and was an acclaimed professional emcee in the 1980s. After establishing SM Entertainment, his first major breakthrough came with the idol group H.O.T. in 1995. He has been dubbed a star maker, producing Shinhwa, Fly to the Sky, BoA and TVXQ.
Lee is especially known for his ability to read the trend just a second ahead of the curve. Taking advantage of his unique skills, Lee is also expanding his business to developing star-related contents. SM Entertainment is involved in over 40 kinds of business, including album wholesales, entertainment agency, publishing, and licensing.
Lee was at the forefront of the Korean Wave that swept all across Asia, defining the K-pop craze when he launched H.O.T. in the Chinese music market, and turned TVXQ and Super Junior into Asia's top idol groups. BoA, extremely successful in Japan, was his "masterpiece," borne of what in other sectors is called a localization strategy.
But Lee continues to put particular emphasis on China, which he believes will be the world's largest entertainment market soon. To expand his business in Asia, Lee set up SMAC in collaboration with Japan's leading entertainment company, Avex, and China's largest entertainment management company, Cheng-Tian.