BoA asks Lee Soo Man, “Why did you send me to Japan when I was so young?” and “Don’t you think we went to the US too early?”
BoA and Lee Soo Man continued their talk in the 4th episode of her V Live reality show, ‘Nobody Talks To BoA.’ The duo recounted the humble beginnings of BoA’s Japanese debut and pondered if they went to the debut in the United States too early.
BoA mentions that many people were curious about how and why BoA journeyed to Japan at such a young age. Lee Soo Man shares that because of economic reasons and people’s preferences changing, he wanted an artist who would be loved by middle and high school students, which is how he produced the 1st generation K-pop group H.O.T. But, it was also because Japan was the 2nd largest music industry, and he needed to create an idol there.
“I thought we should outdo Japan”, he says. “To become an idol, the artist should debut at the age of 13 to 15, and make success at 16 to 18. And [then] I found BoA.”
The two share a laugh about BoA’s audition and Lee Soo Man says he picked BoA because of her “beautiful smile”. We also learn that SM Entertainment invested 4 billion won, roughly 3.6 million USD, into her Japanese debut. Half came from SM and the other half came from their business partner and BoA’s Japanese label, AVEX Entertainment.
Initially, Japan was not receptive to BoA, and AVEX wanted to back out, but Lee Soo Man convinced them to try again. This result led to her one million+ sold, chart-topping album, 2002’s Listen To My Heart, where she became the 1st Korean artist to hit number one. In Lee Soo Man’s words, the album made, “Japanese kids [see] BoA and [think] Korea is a place where a cool girl comes from.”
The idea would later spur BoA’s entry into the U.S. market, with her 2009 album, BoA, and its repackaged version, BoA Deluxe. She reveals she wanted to quit singing at the time and study in the U.S., but Lee Soo Man debuted her instead.
“I knew that you struggled when you went [to the U.S.]”, Lee Soo Man admits.
“Don’t you think we went to the U.S. too early?” BoA says.
Although Lee Soo Man asserts that current and future SM artists can have number one albums because of her, the two burst out in laughter as they agree her debut was too early. But in a shocking twist, Lee Soo Man asks BoA if she wanted to go back.
“We can do it. We can do it now”, he says excitedly. “Do you want to try?”
With a quick response, BoA says, “If you tell me to go, I will go.”
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