SM starts new division

Korean version of 'Xanadu' first up for new unit

SEOUL -- SM Entertainment, South Korea's leading music label, announced on Wednesday that it is opening a new musical division to add to its wide array of entertainment units.

First up for SM Art Co., as the new company is named, will be a Korean version of "Xanadu," the Broadway musical that premiered last year.

SM's version of the musical comedy will feature two members of popular boy band Super Junior and will run Sept. 9-Nov. 23 in Seoul.

A spokesman for SM said that the company would concentrate on licensing popular foreign musicals for now, but the company was considering creating original productions beginning next year.

With Korea's music sales plummeting in recent years, SM Entertainment has diversified into a wide range of other entertainment services, including movie production, new media, restaurants and more.

But the biggest growth market in the Korean entertainment industry these days is theater, in particular musicals, a business which has grown from just $15 million in 2000 to an estimated $150 million in 2007.

The live theater market in general has similarly grown from $98 million to more than $300 million over the same period.

SM Entertainment alone operates four theaters in Seoul, with a fifth planned to open in August.

Earlier this week, another major music label, YG Entertainment, also announced it was getting involved in the musical phenomenon in Korea, teaming with the veteran theater producer Seol & Co.
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