Having showbiz as one of its biggest industries, South Korea has so many entertainment agencies which actively debuting new idols/actors every now and then. Among those agencies, there are the famous Big 3: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. Each one of them was founded by popular Korean artist, Lee Soo Man, Yang Hyun Suk and Park Jin Young respectively. And it’s not a secret that people (especially fans) keep on debating as to which one is the best entertainment agency.
Here, we offer our objective review of those Big 3 entertainment agencies. Please note that we do not stan nor get any reward from any of them. Also this article are not made to ignite any fan war, the purpose of this article is more to give a deeper insight about Korean Showbiz industry especially for new fans.
- SM Entertainment
- It’s save to say that SM is the home (or previous home) of big names and legends. From H.O.T, Shinhwa, BoA, TVXQ, Super Junior, Girls Generation, Shinee, F(X), EXO, Red Velvet, to the recent NCT.
- SM aims for quality, their auditions are infamous for being difficult. Some people hate SM as their artists are all good looking, but if we overlook their appearance, SM artists have a lot of talents. The idols can sing, dance and (mostly) play instruments, even their rappers sing well. Note that both CSJH (The Grace) and EXO are famous as idols with the best vocals in K-pop.
- Some of the idols have other talents such as becoming kings of variety show (Super Junior’s Lee Teuk, Shindong, Heechul, etc.), great actors (EXO’s D.O, Suho, Sehun, Super Junior’s Siwon, Shinee’s MinHo, JYJ’s Yoochun, etc.), great song-writers (Shinee’s JongHyun (RIP), EXO’s Lay, ChanYeol, etc.).
- SM actually has a lot of events to bring out its artists together, such as SMTown which is actually the union of SM artists and annually they hold a SMTown concert, SM Station which is a digital music project where SM artists can actually collaborate with other artists (not only from SM), SM Halloween Party is one of the most anticipated event of SM Entertainment where its artists get together in awesome Halloween suits.
- Since SM is a big company and its artists are known to be talented, the artists are given great opportunities to spread their career (after some times). They would casts in popular dramas and popular variety shows.
- After debuting for some times, SM not only provides its artists plenty of opportunities as an individual but also making sure that most of groups members are shining almost equally. To be honest, there are no SM idol groups that one member overshadowed the other members.
- SM’s idols are mostly long lasting. Perhaps because SM makes sure that most of their artists (even the legendary ones) are doing something and exist in entertainment industry. H.O.T members can still be seen in variety shows and even talking about their comeback, Super Junior did their comeback recently while each of the members is doing solo activities, and many more.
- Just like so many other big companies, SM Entertainment can be demanding toward its artists as their acts can affect SM’s image. This debatable trait, actually help the faithful and overly spending fans rest assure that they mostly will not receive bad news about their favorite artists.
- SM loves to make groups consist of so many people (9++), even with NCT, they plan to have an infinite members. These groups are(were) coming out with several sub-units mostly depending on their area of promotions. For example: Super Junior, EXO-K, NCT 127 are/were promoting mostly in South Korea using Korean language while Super Junior-M, EXO-M and NCT China are/were promoting mostly in China using Mandarin. Both the Korean and Mandarin sub-units are/were mostly promoting simultaneously, making them awesome and hard to choose at the same time. Fans are also find it hard to choose and focus on their bias in a group due to members number and units.
- One of the issue about the large number of members in a group is SM Entertainment would also find it hard to help/assist each of the individual especially when they are still considered rookies.
- Related to the point above, its also safe to say that SM Entertainment is best fit for those who are tough and patience. Especially as mentioned before that SM can be demanding, it can be extra hard for its artists and leads to bad incidents such as Super Junior’s Hangeng, EXO’s Kris, Luhan, Tao, and many more departure from their groups, and of course the unfortunate Shinee’s JongHyun death.
For talents: SM Entertainment is best for talents who are physically and mentally strong
For fans: SM Entertainment is best to look for multi-talented artists with fresh looks, songs and powerful dance movements. It also the best if you are hoping to stan your idol for a long time.
2. JYP Entertainment
- JYP’s artists are perhaps the most quiet artists among the big 3. With less scandals, some of them suddenly making huge comebacks, some of them “quietly” went off the radar before announcing disbandment.
- This “quiet” trait also supported by JYP strict policy towards its artists (almost similar with SM). JYP even not allowing its artists to go to a club or any other adult entertainment. So we can hope for less scandal from JYP artists.
- JYP actually has great vision for its company with it’s policy of not hiring intern to prevent nepotism and personal favors, among many other brilliant policies.
- Not only that Park Jin Young of JYP is famous for being close to JYP artists, each of JYP artists are apparently close to each other and become a family under JYP Nation.
- Many of the artists are multi-talented and given the opportunities to expand their career. Such as: Miss A’s Suzy, 2PM’s Taecyeon, JunHo, ChanSung in acting, 2PM’s Nichkhun, GOT7’s Jackson and many more are supported to do solo career.
- JYP seems to manage their non-Korean artists well enough that most of them are staying, like 2PM’s Nichkhun and GOT7’s Jackson.
- Despite being talented as an individual, most of JYP idol groups are considerably failed to showcase their talents as a group. Their songs are indeed catchy and they act/sounds sexy but not exactly the ones that need awesome voice (except the duo 15&) and mostly are not that iconic.
- JYP are not giving equal opportunities among group members that many group members are overshadowed by one or two members. For example, when we thought of Miss A, Suzy most possibly comes into mind first. The same goes for GOT7’s Jackson.
For talents: JYP is best for talents who don’t mind having slower but sure career and get family-like environment as bonus.
For fans: JYP is best to look for steady artists, with sexy-bubbly image and less drama/scandal.
3. YG Entertainment
- YG is mostly praised for having (multi) talented artists without judging their physical appearances. Rumor has it, YG even does not encourage its artists to undergo plastic surgery.
- YG singers mostly have powerful voices and their songs are uniquely different than the typical K-Pop songs. So, people may find them refreshing to hear and easy to point out that “this must be a YG singer/idol”.
- Just like their songs, YG loves to go out of the box with its brand new ideas like the recent black comedy show “YG Future Strategy Office”. Unfortunately not every Korean seem to understand what a black comedy means.
- YG artists are well known to be multi talented (or at least really good at what they do), and YG gives plenty of opportunities for each individual to do solo activities, song-writings, songs composing, etc. well, maybe except acting (for idols).
- Yang Hyun Suk from YG Entertainment is said to be real close with many of his artists, most of them are easily imitating or bad-mouthing both Yang Hyun Suk and YG Entertainment without even batting an eye.
- As Bigbang was YG’s breakthrough, many people compare other YG’s artists success to Bigbang’s and claimed that the next generation idols are not as good as Bigbang both in quality and success.
- YG also seems to “neglect” many of its potential soloists, most notably is Lee Hi.
- Despite actually having outstanding singing and dancing skills, most of YG idols are not doing much dance routines and tend to do “lazy” singing making them sounds not as good as they could be.
- Among the big 3 entertainment agencies, YG has the least non-Korean idol group member which could be an advantage for the groups’ teamwork but a pity for those non-Korean talents with YG soul.
For talents: YG is best for talents with outstanding skills even without outstanding appearance, plus, YG might let you do plenty of things in a relatively short time after debut.
For fans: YG is best for those who are looking for a more mature, serious and slower K-pop songs and although their visual perhaps not over the top, but you may be surprised with their (hidden) talents.
So, which of the three is your favorite?
See EXO from SM’s profile here: EXO K-Pop Group Profile