Is SM Entertainment Still the Garden of Roses in Kpop?

In the ever-evolving realm of Kpop, where visuals play a significant role in capturing the hearts of fans, SM Entertainment has long held the coveted title of the “Garden of Roses.” With its reputation for producing idols with stunning looks and captivating charisma, SM has consistently set the standard for visual excellence in the industry. 

However, in recent years, as the K-pop landscape has diversified and new trends have emerged, some have questioned whether SM still maintains its reign as the undisputed king of visuals.

Historical Perspective

In South Korea, SM Entertainment has a long and storied history of producing some of the most iconic visuals in K-pop history. From the early days of H.O.T.’s Kangta and TVXQ’s Yunho to the recent success of EXO’s Sehun and NCT’s Lucas, SM has consistently showcased a unique ability to identify and nurture individuals who possess talent and beauty.

Some of SM’s most famous visual idols include:

  • Kangta (H.O.T.)
  • Yunho (TVXQ)
  • Changmin (TVXQ)
  • Jaejoong (TVXQ)
  • Junsu (TVXQ)
  • Yunho (JYJ)
  • Kim Heechul (Super Junior)
  • Lee Donghae (Super Junior)
  • Siwon (Super Junior)
  • Krystal (f(x))
  • Sulli (f(x))
  • Yoona (Girls’ Generation)
  • Seohyun (Girls’ Generation)
  • Taeyeon (Girls’ Generation)
  • Kai (EXO)
  • Sehun (EXO)
  • Baekhyun (EXO)
  • Chanyeol (EXO)
  • Lucas (NCT)

These K-pop idols have all been praised for their stunning visuals, often featuring delicate features, symmetrical proportions, and a healthy glow. They have also been successful in modeling and other areas that require good visuals.

Challenges to the Title

In recent years, however, some have questioned whether SM still deserves the title of “Garden of Roses.” Critics point to the following:

  • The members of NCT, SM’s latest boy group, have been criticized for being too thin. Jaemin and Taeyong, in particular, have been accused of being underweight and unhealthy.
  • Some SM idols like Johnny have been criticized for having average or below-average visuals.
  • Even some of SM’s most popular idols, such as Baekhyun and Chanyeol, have been called “normal” or “ordinary.”

Arguments in Defense of SM

Despite these criticisms, many still believe that SM has the best visual line in K-pop. They point to the following:

  • SM has a long history of producing idols with stunning visuals. This history is unmatched by any other K-pop agency.
  • SM idols are often praised for their unique and memorable visuals. For example, NCT’s Lucas is known for his exotic looks, while EXO’s Kai is known for his androgynous beauty.
  • SM idols often succeed in modeling and other areas requiring good visuals. This success is a testament to their natural beauty and star power.

Changing Standards of Beauty

In addition to the arguments presented in the article, it is essential to consider the changing standards of beauty in K-pop. In the past, idols were typically expected to have thin bodies and delicate features. However, there has been a growing trend towards more diverse and inclusive beauty standards in recent years. This shift has opened up opportunities for SM Entertainment to showcase its versatility in producing idols embodying a broader spectrum of beauty.

For example, NCT is a prime example of SM’s evolving visual approach. With a diverse lineup of members from various countries and backgrounds, NCT has shattered traditional beauty norms, embracing a more inclusive and multifaceted concept of attractiveness. While some members, like Jaemin and Taeyong, have faced criticism for their slender builds, others, like Lucas and Ten, have garnered praise for their unique and unconventional visuals.

By embracing diversity and promoting individuality, SM Entertainment is well-positioned to maintain its status as the Garden of Roses in a changing K-pop landscape. The agency’s commitment to producing idols who are not only beautiful but also talented and charismatic is sure to continue to resonate with fans around the world.

The History of Entertainment Companies in South Korea

The South Korean entertainment industry, also known as Hallyu, has flourished recently and increasingly captured audiences’ attention worldwide. One of the key factors contributing to Hallyu’s success is the development of South Korean entertainment companies.

Early Development

South Korean entertainment companies emerged in the 1960s but only gained significant traction in the 1990s. During the early stages, South Korean entertainment companies primarily focused on solo artists like Lee Moon-se, Cho Yong-pil, and Kim Gun-mo.

The Rise of K-pop

The 1990s also witnessed the birth of the first K-pop idol groups, including Seo Taiji and Boys, H.O.T., and S.E.S. The success of these groups sparked the K-pop craze in South Korea and spread across the globe.

The Evolution of Multi-talented Entertainment Companies

In recent years, South Korean entertainment companies have continuously evolved and expanded their operations into various fields, including music, television, film, fashion, and e-commerce. This has allowed South Korean entertainment companies to attract more talent and create high-quality entertainment products that cater to the needs of a global audience.

Leading South Korean Entertainment Companies

Today, South Korea is home to numerous large and well-known entertainment companies, including:

  • SM Entertainment
  • YG Entertainment
  • JYP Entertainment
  • BigHit Entertainment
  • HYBE Labels

These companies are home to renowned and successful artists, playing a significant role in Hallyu’s development.

Criteria for Evaluating a South Korean Entertainment Company

Several criteria can be used to evaluate a South Korean entertainment company, including:

  • Number and quality of artists
  • The success of entertainment products
  • The company’s influence on the entertainment industry


Whether or not SM still deserves the title of “Garden of Roses” is a matter of opinion. However, there is no doubt that the agency has a long history of producing some of the most beautiful idols in K-pop.

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