SEOUL, Oct. 28 (Yonhap) -- Lee Soo-man, the founding chairman and producer of South Korea's S.M. Entertainment, became the first Korean to receive a prestigious award from a U.S. non-profit organization for his role in the globalization of K-pop, the entertainment agency said Friday.
The agency said that Lee attended the 2016 Asia Game Changer Awards ceremony at the headquarters of the United Nations in New York on Thursday local time. The 64-year-old was honored for his immense contributions to promoting Korea's pop culture to the world and turning the country's culture into a global phenomenon.
The recipients of the awards are selected from the global network of the hosting organization, Asia Society, among people who have made positive contributions to the future of Asia in policy and business, arts and culture, and education.
Asia Society, celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, is a New York-based institution that aims to foster understanding of Asia and communication between Americans and Asians.
The non-profit organization lauded Lee as producing "K-pop artists who stand at the vanguard of what's known as the Korean Wave, igniting the global K-pop craze" and "the man behind Korean pop music, which has gone global, grossing billions of dollars per year."
Lee Soo-man in his award speech said, "As rapid changes of technology and trends influence the world and give happiness to people, S.M. Entertainment and I will strive hard to offer happiness to everyone even in the era of AI and robots by developing quality content and launching celebrities."
Other award winners include Sanduk Ruit of Nepal, an eye surgeon who has restored sight to thousands of patients, and Muzoon Almellehan of Syria, who brought education to her fellow Syrian refugees, with Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei receiving the first Asia Game Changer Lifetime Achievement Award.
Lee, a singer-turned-entrepreneur, founded S.M. Entertainment in 1995. S.M.'s artists include Girls' Generation, EXO, Super Junior and SHINee.