Recently, the social media sphere went into a frenzy when it was reported in Korean news that SM Entertainment is considering closing down businesses that are incurring losses, which includes SMTOWN COEX Artium. Housing a merchandise store, cafe, theatre and museum, this venue has already been marked as a must-go hot spot for K-pop fans, especially for fans of SM artistes.
Being a longtime fan of one of the SM artistes, I possess a love-hate relationship with the company; I’m thankful that they debuted my idols in the same group, but yet the actions (or non-action) from the company always infuriated us fans.
Naturally, I’ll always visit SMTOWN COEX Artium when in Seoul to check out my idols’ new merchandise (if there is). Having recently visited the place just 2 weeks ago to watch Taemin’s T1001101 Concert Surround Viewing in the SMTOWN Theatre, this news came as a surprise to me.
So what exactly went wrong with SM Entertainment, one of the Big 3?
Basically, SM is losing money. Been losing for a while. Board of directors has been reorganized. Looks like they’re planning on restructuring and that means they have to look at everything, including the Artium, to see what makes profit and what doesn’t.— 브리 (@suhjohnseo) July 31, 2019
The biggest problem really lies in their merchandise and how they handle its production. They overstock for some artists that don’t sell well, and do not focus on the ones that do. Those that sell out do not get restocked even when there’s a demand for it.— ? (@kimtaem) July 31, 2019
Or to look at things at a more business point-of-view (do read the entire thread):
I understand SME closing Coex if it isn’t profitable. Sounds like they are trying to reorg to make investors happy without cutting out their payments to Lee Soo Man’s company. They’ll probably trim a lot of marginally profitable / unprofitable activities so they +— LuKFC (@London9Calling) July 31, 2019
On an unrelated (or is it not?) note, SM Entertainment has also been under fire for the following controversies:
1) Alleged mistreatment of foreign artistes, an example here being NCT Dream’s Renjun:
2) Completely removing any mention of Winwin from NCT 127:
you’ve got to be kidding me…. pic.twitter.com/Ab1hEyz9He— mark lee (@WElSHENNIE) July 22, 2019
3) SHINee’s official fanclub welcome kit which looks like a joke compared with other groups, and no action was taken despite the complaints from fans, and with this news even reaching popular Korean portals like Instiz and Topstarnews:
Just look at the differences! I thought SHINee welcome kit will get the same as suju or tvxq. But we got less & uglier design of it.. look what you have done to us who always got y’all SOLDOUT for every merch released by @SMTOWNGLOBAL pic.twitter.com/czRMYtxgFE— ⚓️2109 ✨MINHOSOUL✨ (@Ridhaflame) June 3, 2019
4) Ignoring fans’ needs and not restocking popular sold out goods, but instead releasing merch that people will not probably buy:
instead of releasing exo lightstick ver 3 or restock ver 2, SM decided to sell DIY stickers instead ? pic.twitter.com/zC2jZi5qEk— 낸 ♡ 세훈 (@honeybunch94) June 6, 2019
5) Selling other agencies’ idol groups albums and non-SM related items at SMTOWN COEX Artium, when their priority should be on their own artistes instead:
6) Lee Soo Man (SM Entertainment’s Chairman) has been accused of suspicious “internal transactions”, and although SM Entertainment has stepped out to clarify, it seemed like the investors were still unsatisfied with the answer. Lee Soo Man himself is no stranger to controversies, which has followed him all the way back to more than a decade ago.
To summarize, here’s an accurate depiction of SM:
Whatever happens, I’m hoping that SM Entertainment will buck up and not have to close SMTOWN COEX Artium, because this is really an iconic landmark, and it sure holds many fond memories for K-pop fans as well. And also, not to do anything illegal.
All in all, many fans would have been saying that SM has “lost its way”, with seemingly a lack of attention being paid to the success (or not) of their groups. Aren’t the groups suppose to be the cash cow of an agency, or are we fans missing the point?
What do you think?