Supergroup BTS absence hurting K-Pop growth
The boyband are widely considered South Korea's biggest-ever cultural phenomenon, selling out stadiums around the world and dominating the charts while raking in billions for the country's economy and building a global legion of fans known as ARMYs.
(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 15, 2019, South Korean boy band BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, pose on the red carpet at the 28th Seoul Music Awards in Seoul. – Making megastars BTS do their South Korean military service is slowing the global growth of K-pop, the chairman of the septet’s agency HYBE said on March 15, 2023. (Photo by Jung Yeon-je / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY SKOREA-DEFENCE-SOCIAL-ENTERTAINMENT,FOCUS BY KANG JIN-KYU
Making megastars BTS do their South Korean military service is slowing the global growth of K-pop, the chairman of the septet’s agency HYBE said Wednesday.
The boyband is widely considered South Korea‘s biggest-ever cultural phenomenon, selling out stadiums around the world and dominating the charts while raking in billions for the country’s economy and building a global legion of fans known as ARMYs.
But all able-bodied men in South Korea must serve at least 18 months in the military and, after a years-long debate about whether BTS deserved an exemption, Jin, the oldest member of the group, enlisted in December.
Bang Si-hyuk, chairman of HYBE and the mastermind behind BTS, said figures — including global ratings and album sales — now showed declining demand for K-pop.
“The absence of BTS is the first reason,” Bang said.
“I think it’s very clear that the fact BTS is not active as a team is playing the biggest role in bringing about this change in numbers,” he told a forum in Seoul.
BTS are the most prominent K-pop figures globally, he said, adding: “the market narrows significantly when BTS is taken out.”
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Some male K-pop stars have struggled to resume their careers after military service in a cut-throat industry where artists are easily replaceable.
“Obviously, I think it’s true that enlisting in the military means the continuity of a person’s career or their value as a national asset is damaged,” said HYBE chairman Bang.
“However, I think it’s a completely different matter for an individual to happily accept the duty of the military,” he added, saying he was “happy” about the decisions by the BTS members.
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