|Lee Soo-man / Courtesy of SM Entertainment|
By Ko Dong-hwan
Lee Soo-man, the founder of international entertainment company, SM Entertainment, has reportedly given his luxury apartment to a journalist who works for an American broadcaster.
Lee, 69, has been dating the Korean woman, 52, for over the past five years, according to local reports. Lee was married in 1984 but lost his wife to cancer in 2014.
The woman's name and which company she works for have not been identified. She has reportedly worked as a Seoul correspondent to foreign media outlets for over 20 years and covered news across the Asian region, including K-pop news.
Lee's gift was a suite in a villa apartment building called Sangji Ritzville Caelum in the Cheongdam area of Seoul's Gangnam District, according to local reports. The suite is a 248-square-meter property worth 3.89 billion won ($3.38 million) when Lee bought it in 2015. The apartment's value had risen to 4.9 billion won as of last May.
One of Korea's pop music icons, Cho Young-nam, who enjoyed his heyday from the 1970s through the 1990s, and the son of the chairman of the major conglomerate, LG Group, Koo Bon-joon, also own suites in the apartment building.
Local reports said that Lee's gift to the woman doesn't violate Korea's Improper Solicitation and Graft Act because she works for a news company outside of the country.
Lee established SM Entertainment in 1995 and made it into one of the leaders in K-pop. Some of the most popular K-pop acts trained under Lee's firm are Girls' Generation, Red Velvet, Super Junior, Boa, TVXQ, NCT and Aespa.