BTS ponders its future, and South Korea’s economy takes cautious note


The fallout from BTS’s announcement on Tuesday that the K-pop juggernaut would be taking a hiatus as members explore solo careers was immediate and drastic.

In just a day, the share price of the group’s management label, HYBE, fell 28 percent to 139,000 won — or $108 — the lowest price since the company went public nearly two years ago, with $1.7 billion worth of money. market value was lost. The share price has barely moved since then.

The drastic plunge underscores how South Korea’s best-selling boy band has become not only a cultural sensation, but also a powerful stakeholder in South Korea’s economy.

Since the group’s debut in 2013, BTS has raised billions of dollars through album sales, concert tickets and social media. The YouTube channel alone, the 20th largest in the world, can generate up to $2 million per month. According to the Hyundai Research Institute, the group contributed $3.5 billion annually to the country’s economy in 2020.

Even during the pandemic, which ravaged the live concert industry, BTS drove a 58 percent increase in HYBE’s revenue, according to the company’s 2021 year-end reports. The label took in 1.3 trillion won, nearly a billion last year. dollars.

According to the Korea Culture and Tourism Institute, which predicted that a single BTS concert could raise more than $500 million or more, the group’s financial contribution to South Korea’s economy was only expected to increase as the pandemic continues. restrictions eased.

News of the group’s planned hiatus rocketed the internet when the group posted its video announcement, which attracted more than 16 million views in two days. The group’s fans, who call themselves Army, swarmed on social media in droves to express their support — and fear of the news.

“Thank you BTS for being our home, for your beautiful music that lights up our lives, for your love and happiness for us,” a Twitter user Posted† ‘We will support you. We will always be there for you. We are waiting for you. ARMY FOREVER. We love you.”

Fans were especially confused by the term “gap,” which was used in the English translations in the original video. Reports in South Korean media quickly linked the announcement to the fact that Jin, the oldest member of the group, was due to enlist for mandatory military service by the end of this year.

Speculation about the group’s possible disbandment led to a rapid relapse of statements by the label and the group members themselves.

News organizations reported that the group was not taking a break, but that group members were turning to focus more on their individual careers. The group will “continue to operate in a variety of formats,” the statement said.

RM, the group’s leader, posted on the social media site Weverse on Thursday, saying that many people had messaged him assuming the group was breaking up.

“While it’s not that I didn’t anticipate this or wasn’t aware that this could happen, I still feel bitter,” he said, explaining his intention was to openly communicate with fans about the release. reflections of the group over the past decade and not to announce that the group was breaking up.

Jungkook, the youngest BTS member, also tried to clarify in a live video stream on Thursday. “We’re not thinking of breaking up,” he said, adding that BTS still had plans to perform in the future.

In Tuesday’s announcement video, members gathered around a table and spoke candidly about the intense pressure they face to constantly create and deliver music, ultimately leading to their decision to temporarily pursue a solo career.

“I felt like I was trapped and couldn’t get out,” said Namjoon, explaining that he felt like the years of being constantly in the spotlight as a K-pop idol didn’t leave him much room for personal growth.

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