On September 2nd, 2014, South Korean entertainment company SM Entertainment brought along six of their top talent to Beijing for a partnership announcement ceremony. The ceremony was mainly held for two reasons:
- To signify the launch of a USD$20 million film and TV production investment fund between three major Asian media companies: SM Entertainment, Media Asia (寰亞), and Fubon Group (富邦) – called “Dragon Tiger Capital Partners L.P.”
- To announce passing over all representation duties of SM Entertainment artists in China to Media Asia, including Zhang Liyin, f(x), and EXO
If you’re a fan of K-Pop, you would already know a lot about SM Entertainment. It is one of the biggest media companies in South Korea, and manages many of Asia’s trendiest and most popular artists (e.g. TVXQ, Girls Generation, Super Junior). It has also made expansion into the Japanese market through these artists.
But if you’re a fan of K-Pop, you may know less about the companies, Media Asia and Fubon Group. Media Asia is a Chinese media company based in Hong Kong. It does not have a strong presence in Mainland China as of yet, but you can bet that this partnership is their gateway to increasing their market share in the country. Fubon Group is even less known in China. It is a Taiwanese financial group that oversees banks and financial service companies, and is the parent company of Kbro, a cable TV operator that is also a partner in the three-way partnership. Essentially, the ceremony held in September was more about the new partnership between powerful media corporations SM Entertainment and Media Asia, rather than with Taiwan’s Fubon, which is still new to the entertainment business.
As mentioned, Media Asia currently does not have a strong presence in Mainland China, but it has incredible influence in the Hong Kong entertainment industry, and has collaborated with even Hollywood film production companies. It has an extensive history in producing, selling and distributing movies across Asia, all the way dating back to the 1970s. Just by looking at its IMDb pages (1, 2, 3), some successes include: Cloud Atlas (2010, USD$130 million box office worldwide), American Dreams in China (2013, USD$88 million), Aftershock (2010, USD$108 million), The Departed (2006, USD$132 million), and the Infernal Affairs film trilogy. In terms of film production, Media Asia is a very reputable company.
But if you take a look at the artists under Media Asia’s various music labels – Media Asia Music, East Asia Music, A Music, and Capital Artists – their musicians haven’t reached pan-Asian success in recent years. This is where SM Entertainment steps in. Where SM Entertainment lacks in Chinese industry connections and film/TV history, Media Asia and Fubon are there to provide. Where Media Asia and Fubon lack in artists and global talent, SM Entertainment is there to provide. All three companies can help each other because of their various strengths in media production.
So what does all this mean for K-Pop fans? It means good things. More China-based activities are on the horizon for SM Entertainment talent whose target audience are the Chinese-speaking countries (e.g. Zhang Liyin, Super Junior-M, f(x), EXO-M). For Chinese-speaking artists in general, fans can expect their favourite artists in more Chinese films, TV shows, and soundtracks. Remember that Chinese pop culture has a far longer history globally than Korean pop culture. Sure, “Gangnam Style” was a huge hit internationally, but Chinese pop culture is much more accessible because of Chinese immigrant populations worldwide. If all goes well for the two major media companies, we could possibly see SM Entertainment talent attending major international film festivals as a part of the cast in a Media Asia-produced film, as their films often receive critical acclaim overseas.
To conclude, here is a quote from the founder and executive producer of SM Entertainment, Lee Sooman, who was in attendance at the ceremony in September:
This contract will allow for the opportunity for Korea and China to better understand each other through the cooperation of our two cultures. I believe that the collaboration of our two companies will create a great synergy that will help us in the future.
- Variety — Asian trio launch fund to break into China market
- Wall Street Journal — Gaga for Gangnam: $20 million bet on bringing Korean pop culture to China
- Korea Herald — SM and Media Asia Hong Kong join forces
- China Money Network — Three media firms to jointly launch China investment fund
- Focus Taiwan — Taiwan, HK, South Korea enterprises set up investment fund for film, TV