Lee Soo-man, who left SM, will try his hand at Chinese drone taxis.

Lee Soo-man, the founder and former chief producer of SM Entertainment, has been ousted from his own company and is embarking on a new chapter in his career in China. He and a group of investors, including Lee, have signed a deal to acquire an undisclosed amount of the Chinese autonomous aerial vehicle company EHang for $23 million. EHang is listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Lee’s individual contribution to the deal was not specified. As part of the agreement, Lee will collaborate with EHang to drive the development of Urban Air Mobility business in the Asian Pacific regions.

In addition to this business venture, Lee made a donation of 100 million won ($77,500) to a Mongolian government committee for tree planting. This donation was in lieu of a canceled tree-planting event in Ulaanbaatar due to heavy rain. Reports indicate that Lee is also holding auditions in Beijing to recruit talented teenagers.

These recent activities align with Lee’s previous investment patterns and statements. He established his own drone company, LeePollux, in February 2019 and invested in driverless aviation manufacturer Pablo Air the following month. Lee has also emphasized the importance of tree planting to mitigate environmental catastrophes and has incorporated this theme into songs produced for artists at SM Entertainment. Furthermore, he has expressed a focus on the Chinese market, envisioning the emergence of “The Hollywood of the East” in China during a lecture at Harvard in 2007 and expressing his desire for a television audition program for pop music in China during a TV appearance in 2020.

Recent reports indicate that Lee founded another company named Blooming Grace in March, described as a company focusing on the fusion of culture and technology. Apart from Blooming Grace and LeePollux, Lee also owns Culture Technology Group Asia, a music publishing company founded in May 2015.

This news follows Lee’s sale of most of his shares in SM Entertainment to HYBE last February for 42.3 billion won. This sale led to a battle between Lee and HYBE against SM executives and Kakao, who initiated tender offers to obtain a majority share in SM Entertainment. Kakao and Kakao Entertainment emerged as winners, now owning 39.87 percent of SM Entertainment’s shares. The exact remaining number of shares held by Lee in SM Entertainment has not been confirmed.

Korean Reactions to this New

“This man seem fine, but I don’t know why they like China so much.”

“He received a whopping 400 billion in cash, but it’s only 30 billion. It’s peanuts.”

“Drone taxis? Of course, there’s potential and a future for them, but it seems challenging to generate profits within the next 30 years due to the commercialization process.”

“It is not investing in the industry, I’m investing in stock speculation.”

“Please invest in Korean companies to enable the production of domestic drones. Isn’t supporting this an act of patriotism? This is what patriotism looks like.”

“They say Lee Soo-man sold SM for over 400 billion won, so what’s the reason behind not investing in Korea and instead investing in China?”

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