From its inception, SM Entertainment’s newly introduced boy group, RIIZE, has encountered stumbling blocks. The issues at hand are not related to their musical prowess or star quality, but rather concern the private lives of individual members. The response from SM to address these concerns has been met with criticism for its perceived lack of professionalism.
Recently, an online community posted a photo showing a man, presumed to be SEUNGHAN of RIIZE, sharing a kiss with a woman. The image captured the couple in an intimate pose on a bed.
The photo has rapidly spread across online platforms, casting a shadow over RIIZE, who have only just taken their first steps into the limelight. RIIZE is a rookie group under SM Entertainment, marking the agency’s return to the male idol group scene after a hiatus of around seven years. Given SM’s reputation as a powerhouse in the idol industry, there was already considerable anticipation surrounding the debut of RIIZE. Their debut title track, “Get a Guitar,” and the prologue single, “Memories,” have already been partially unveiled.
When past photos of Sohee surfaced, revealing the faces of RIIZE members, it triggered negative claims about her school years. While the authenticity of these claims has yet to be verified, the damage to their image was already done.
How has SM responded to these controversies? Following the leaked kiss photo, SEUNGHAN announced his absence from music show recordings. On the 29th, SM Entertainment stated that “Due to a sudden illness, SEUNGHAN will be unable to attend,” without offering further details about the nature of his absence.
No clarification regarding the kiss photo was provided. The response, lacking in clarity and transparency, only exacerbated the situation instead of addressing it. Sohee, too, continues her activities without any explanation.
The unauthorized distribution of members’ private photos constitutes a breach of privacy and potentially a criminal act. SM’s reaction has been to remain tight-lipped. Rather than adopting a clear-cut strategy to manage the situation, their ambiguous stance is inadvertently intensifying the issue. This type of inadequate response is detrimental not only to the artists but also to the reputation of the company. Concerns are growing about SM Entertainment, a prominent player in the domestic entertainment industry, and its ability to manage crises effectively. Even the recent upswing in SM’s stock price could be dampened by these incidents. Throughout this year, SM has faced challenges in artist management, shedding light on leadership and systemic shortcomings.
In the face of these controversies, SM Entertainment is undergoing a crucial test of its crisis management capabilities, which will determine its capacity to safeguard the reputation of its artists and the company as a whole.