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By AFP


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.


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.

Absence felt

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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