In recent years, the “Big 3” of Kpop, including SM, YG, JYP, are slowly losing their dominance in the industry.
Previously, when asked about the “leaders” of Kpop, people would think about the “Big 3” companies, which include SM, YG, and JYP. With years of history in the industry and hugely popular artists, these companies are considered “legendary” and Kpop leaders. However, in recent years, this has changed with the extensive expansion of HYBE, as well as various controversies related to the “Big 3”.
The SM “civil war”
SM Entertainment, which has kept its prestige for decades and headed the Hallyu Wave, has been the hottest topic nowadays. In particular, a series of controversies emerged from its founder, Lee Soo Man, after Lee Soo Man opted to sell his shares in SM, turning HYBE into SM’s biggest shareholder.
Lee Soo Man’s action faced the opposition of not only SM’s management, but also 208 employees under the company. In addition, SM CEO Lee Sung Soo also revealed numerous scandals and crimes of Lee Soo Man, which ranged from tax evasion, weed and casino business plans, to unreasonable instructions regarding SM artists. Adding to this, Dispatch also investigated Lee Soo Man, who was apparently on Interpol’s wanted list and embezzled billions of won from SM Entertainment. “HYBE is Lee Soo Man’s savior, not SM’s savior”, CEO Lee Sung Soo also said, while fans constantly expressed disappointment in the founder’s action.
In the end, it is SM artists that suffer the heaviest consequences from this “civil war”, as they cannot promote properly amid all controversies. In addition, should HYBE gain control of SM, the once leader of Kpop may lose their original colors.
YG – explosive fame with various scandals
In 2019, YG can be said to have fallen into a “crisis” as its artists are buried in scandals. At the time, former BIGBANG Seungri, iKON B.I, and even Yang Hyun Suk faced investigations due to various allegations. The former BIGBANG member even received a prison sentence and left his group while the rest of BIGBANG was enlisted, due to his “Burning Sun” controversy.
Meanwhile, B.I was accused of drug use, and ended up leaving his post as the leader of iKON, right after the group achieved huge successes with “Love Scenario”. Finally, Yang Hyun Suk’s scandals forced him to resign as chairman, and caused YG’s stock price to drop by as much as 40%.
Nevertheless, YG managed to recover thanks to the global popularity of BLACKPINK, who is now touring across the world with their fame and prestige intact.
In 2023, BLACKPINK is still at the peak of their career, while G-Dragon is preparing for a comeback, signaling a glorious year for YG. The company has also introduced their new girl group, BABYMONSTER, raising expectations. Still, it remains a question whether BABYMONSTER will do as well as previous YG groups, and whether YG will be able to get rid of their “criminal” stains.
JYP, once the “master of girl groups”, is losing impact
JYP successfully created an empire with the launch of iconic idol groups such as G.O.D, Wonder Girls, 2PM, miss A, TWICE,… However, in recent years, JYP seems to be on the decline when its two latest girl groups could not reach the top of the 4th generation.
After the success of Wonder Girls, Miss A, and TWICE, girl groups are known as the strength of JYP. ITZY recorded good results during the first years of activities, but this did not last long. While 4th gen girl groups are dominating, ITZY has been falling behind with underwhelming performance on the charts following recent releases. This comes from the direction that JYP has for ITZY which is deemed no longer appropriate.
Only 3 years into ITZY’s debut, JYP launched its 2nd girl group, NMIXX, drawing high expectations. However, due to experimental and public-unfriendly music, NMIXX failed to hit big and lost the fierce competition among 4th gen girl groups to IVE, LE SSERAFIM, and NewJeans. NMIXX is known to have good live singing skills, eye-catching performance, and top visual Sullyoon, but their music couldn’t convince the public. NMIXX also suffers due to the departure of Jinni, a stan attractor in the group. Fans have gradually lost patience with JYP, no longer placing high expectations for NMIXX’s upcoming comebacks.
HYBE, from a small company to an empire thanks to BTS, has 2 outstanding rookie girl groups
HYBE is undeniably dominating the K-pop industry thanks to the overwhelming success of the artists under its label such as BTS, SEVENTEEN, TXT, NewJeans, LE SSERAFIM,… In the first place, thanks to BTS, Big Hit transformed from a small company into HYBE Labels, now expanding its power worldwide. Not only acquiring a major record label in the US, HYBE recently became the largest shareholder of SM and also engaged in business in many fields other than music.
Last year, HYBE launched two successful rookie girl groups, LE SSERAFIM and NewJeans, gaining popularity not only in Korea but also internationally. Both groups have earned themselves high public recognition, large fan bases, and good achievements in each comeback.
In the current situation, HYBE is visibly a front-runner in the competition between top entertainment companies in Korea, and this is unlikely to change anytime soon.