The Unexpected Reason K-Drama “Itaewon Class” Is Trending Amidst HYBE’s Acquisition Of SM Entertainment’s Stocks

The 2020 K-Drama was a hot topic amongst netizens after the news!

It seems as if the past few days have been crazy in the world of K-Pop.

Earlier in the month, it was reported that SM Entertainment and Kakao joined hands, with further news stating that founder Lee Soo Man disapproved of the deal and intended to sue the directors of SM Entertainment.

SM Entertainment founder Lee Soo Man | SM Entertainment

If that wasn’t enough, after the drama from SM Entertainment, rumors arose that HYBE was interested in becoming a shareholder in the company and buying up Lee Soo Man’s shares.

On February 10, HYBE announced it had purchased Lee Soo Man’s shares, making it the largest shareholder in the company.

We signed a contract on February 8 to acquire a 14.8% stake, or 3,523,420 shares, in SM Entertainment that were previously held by Lee Soo Man.


Although many major co-CEOs did not appreciate the so-called “Hostile Takeover,” Lee Soo Man and HYBE’s founder Bang Si Hyuk released a statement about the deal,

SM Entertainment’s largest shareholder and founder, former executive producer Lee Soo Man and HYBE’s chairman, Bang Si Hyuk, have joined hands so that SM Entertainment and HYBE will become game changers in the world’s popular music.

— Lee Soo Man and Bang Si Hyuk

Bang Si Hyuk | Yonhap News

Amongst all the huge news, netizens found it hilarious that the popular 2020 K-Drama Itaewon Class started trending online. At first, many shared confusion about the link and why the news was being linked with the K-Drama.

The 2020 K-Drama started trending on Twitter | Twitter

The series starring Park Seo Joon follows the story of Park Sae Ro Yi, who is imprisoned after being arrested for attempting to kill Jang Geun Won (Ahn Bo Hyun), the son of Jangga Group’s founder, Jang Dae Hee (Yoo Jae Myung).

Park Seo Joon (left) and Ahn Bo Hyun in “Itaewon Class” | Netflix

| Netflix

After being released from prison, Park Sae Ro Yi opens a restaurant in Itaewon to be successful and seek revenge on Jangga Group.

The cast of “Itaewon Class” who work at the restaurant | JTBC

But what does that have to do with HYBE and SM Entertainment? Netizens believe Itaewon Class’s story represents what is happening between HYBE and SM Entertainment.

For many, Bang Si Hyuk had a journey similar to Park Seo Joon’s character, with the HYBE founder starting a small company and having to fight through adversity against some much larger corporations.

Bang Si Hyuk’s video about Big Hit’s auditions over ten years ago | HYBE LABELS/YouTube

Jang Dae Hee’s character is said to represent SM Entertainment.

Lee Soo Man had a large company with SM Entertainment that seemingly had the most influence in K-Pop with their artists.

At the same time Big Hit was trying to find trainees, Lee Soo Man received the 2012 culture award | The Korea Society/YouTube 

Yet, after BTS‘s rising fame and popularity helped propel Big Hit Entertainment to success which has continued with the debut of the other groups now under HYBE, the company became the most powerful and influential. In particular, this was seen after HYBE Weverse‘s acquisition of the platform VLIVE.

Like Park Sae Ri Yo, those working at HYBE saw their hard work pay off, and it showed in their rising success, which was worlds away from the company’s humble beginnings.

The members of BTS helped Big Hit grow in success until it became HYBE | @bts_bighit/Twitter

At the end of the series, Dae Hee is seen bowing to Sae Ro Yi for mercy for his failing company amidst his health issues. In particular, the parallels come as Sae Ro Yi absorbed Jangga into his company, leaving Dae Hee with nothing.

One of the final scenes in “Itaewon” where the baddie is made to kneel and ask for help from Park Sae Ri Yo | Netflix

For many, this is what happened to Lee Soo Man, who seemingly had no other choice but to ask HYBE to buy his shares. In a report by Dispatch, it revealed that Bang Si Hyuk had all the power in this deal, and Lee Soo Man has come out much worse.

Lee Soo Man urgently reached out to Bang Si Hyuk. Bang Si Hyuk accepted his request for help. But it is noteworthy that the help that Bang Si Hyuk provided also cut off nearly all connections between Lee Soo Man and SM.

Lee Soo Man’s role in SM Entertainment is over.

The revenue that Lee Soo Man can make from SM Entertainment activities and promotions is nearly all gone. That money is now going to the company and the shareholders. Lee Soo Man handed over his share and escaped.

— Insider

When the news first broke about the partnership, Twitter was full of netizens comparing the two stories, finding it unreal that a K-Drama released in 2020 when both HYBE and SM seemed to be powerful could be used to describe the situation in K-Pop.

You can read the full story below about HYBE buying shares in SM Entertainment and becoming the largest shareholder below.

Suing SM Entertainment: The Full Story Behind Lee Soo Man’s Resignation, Lawsuit, And More