The surging popularity of K-pop has sent shares of talent management companies through the roof, and this has generated huge wealth for the stars who own them.
According to Chaebul.com, a website that tracks the activities of business conglomerates, the wealthiest entertainer-turned-talent-manager was Lee Soo-man, owner and majority shareholder of SM Entertainment that manages Girls' Generation, Super Junior and other idol groups, whose stake in SM Entertainment is worth W165.7 billion (US$1=W1,151). The value of Lee's stake more than doubled this year due to the Korean Wave.
Singer BoA and Kangta of the now defunct boy band HOT, who are managed by SM Entertainment, own W4.1 billion and W1.15 billion worth of stocks in the company.
Second after Lee was Yang Hyun-suk, CEO of YG Entertainment, which manages top groups like Big Bang and 2NE1. Yang used to be a member of Seo Tai-ji & Boys. YG Entertainment is not listed, but its stocks are trading outside the market at around W47,000 a share, and Yang's 47.73 percent stake in the company is worth W83.8 billion.
YG Entertainment is set to go public soon and an expected rise in its share price would make him the second entertainer to have over W100 billion worth of shares after Lee Soo-man.
Actor Bae Yong-joon, whose talent management agency KeyEast is listed on the junior Kosdaq index, came third with stock ownership valued at W12.13 billion, followed by former singer Park Jin-young, head of JYP Entertainment, with stocks totaling W6.62 billion. JYP Entertainment manages 2PM and Miss A.
Other entertainers who became wealthy through stakes in their own companies were Oh Seung-hoon, better known as Hwang Seung-hwan, a former comedian who co-founded his own tech company, and former singer Yang Soo-kyung, the wife of Yedang Entertainment chairman Byun Du-seop, who both own around W3 billion worth of shares in their businesses.