Everything You Need to Know About Korea’s “Icon of Debt” – Lee Sang-min


Learn More About Korea’s God of Music and Icon of Debt, Lee Sang-min

Lee Sang-min has had a turbulent life in the Korean entertainment industry. He once was considered one of Korea’s most talented singers and music producers. He started his music career with Roo’ra and later developed into a prodigious music producer by forming various popular idol groups and discovering outstanding singers and entertainers. In the late 90’s he was at the peak of the Korean music industry.

His music career took a downturn path after his disastrous business venture and infamous financial scandals. To make it worse, he also suffered from a failed marriage and plagiarism. He became indebted with an outrageous amount of money, accumulating more than 6 million USD of debt.

He restarted his life in the Korean entertainment industry by appearing in the TV variety show God of Music. He deliberately showed his debt to TV viewers and determination to pay back all of his debt. Due to his financial problem, he was dubbed as Korea’s Icon of debt. In this article, Channel-Korea will provide you with a run-through of everything about Korea’s Icon of Debt, Lee Sang-min. So, stay tuned and keep scrolling down this article.

Lee Sang-min’s profile


Name: Lee Sang-min

Date of Birth: February 3rd, 1973

Place of Birth: Seoul, Korea

Height: 178 cm

Weight: 62 kg

Management: Dmost Entertainment

Associated acts: Roo’ra

Occupation: Singer, songwriter, rapper, music producer, TV host, TV personality

Zodiac: Aquarius

Chinese Zodiac: The Year of the Ox

Instagram: sangmind32

Twitter: sangmind3232

Facts About Lee Sang-min

  • He lost his father at the age of four and was raised by his grandmother
  • He failed the university admission test at first try
  • He rented a training room for 300.000 KRW per month with Shin Jung-hwan after failing the university admission test
  • Lee Sang-min didn’t make enough money and barely survived by consuming instant noodles
  • At his second try, he was admitted to Seoul Institute of Arts, attended university for only two years and left to pursue a music career with Roo’ra

Debut With Roo-ra


Lee Sang-min debuted with the dance group Roo’ra by releasing their first studio album Roots of Reggae on July 1st, 1994. The leading track for the album was “Roots of Reggae.” At the time, Roo’ra was one of the most popular music groups. Roo’ra’s members were Lee Sang-min, Chae Ri-na, Shin Jung-hwan, Kim Ji-hyun, Mikey Romeo, and Ko Young-wook. Roo’ra’s second album, The Angel Who Lost Wings was released on March 28th, 1995, and managed to sell over 1 million copies. Sadly, Roo’ra’s members were infamous for scandals such as illegal gambling and sexual harassment. Roo’ra itself was accused of plagiarism for copying melodies from Japanese group called Ninja. The plagiarism scandal hit the national headlines due to Korea’s and Japan’s tense relationship. Roo’ra disbanded in 2001 but reunited again for their last album in 2009.

Lover MV

Going Going MV

The Angel Who Lost Wings MV

Clear Away MV


Pray MV

Lee Sang-min as a Producer


Lee Sang-min and YG Entertainment’s former CEO, Yang Hyun-suk were considered as the most successful producers in the late 90s. Lee Sang-min wrote and produced songs for popular groups like Chakra, Country Kko kko, and S#arp. His musical genre was mainly dance, ballad, rap, and techno music.

Starting from April 1997, after Roo’ra’s disbandment, Lee Sang-min started working as a music producer. He collaborated with Yang Hyun-suk to produce mixed group Sohodae’s debut album. On August 29th, 1997, he produced a girl group called Diva. Their debut album was titled Funky Diva 1997. Diva consisted of three girl members; one of them was Cha Ri-na, a former member of Roo’ra.


Lee Sang-min had a big part in discovering the talent of comedian and TV personality, Tak Jae-hun. He wrote and composed a pop-dance album for Country Kko Kko, a music duo that consisted of his best friend Sin Jung-hwan and Tak Jae-hun. The duo released their debut album Oh! Happy on April 5th, 1998.



Another mixed-sex group that Lee Sang-min helped to produce was S#arp. He wrote and composed most tracks of their albums. S#arp debuted on November 12th, 1998, by releasing their debut album titled The Sharp.


Lee Sang-min had a helping hand in forming the girl group Chakra. The group debuted with four members, Hwangbo, Eun, Ryeowon, and Eani. Chakra released their debut single “Han” on February 26th, 2000, at Music Camp and received a lot of attention for their unique Indian music concept. Chakra received several music awards, such as Rookie and Best New Group.


On October 5th, 1999, Lee Sang-min formed and produced a supergroup consisted of Roo’ra, Chakra, and Diva members. It was a 13-member group called Bros. Bros’ debut album was titled Win Win and was based on techno music with a combination of nature and human sounds. The album was also a combination of several music genres.