Seoul: The conscription of megastars BTS in South Korea will slow K-pop’s global growth, the chairman of the septet’s agency HYBE said on Wednesday.
The boyband is considered South Korea’s biggest cultural phenomenon, selling out stadiums around the world and raising billions for the country’s economy, building a legion of global fans known as the ARMY.
But all able-bodied men in South Korea must serve at least 18 months in the military, and after years of debate over whether BTS deserved an exemption, Jin, the group’s oldest member, was drafted in December.
According to HYBE chairman and BTS organizer Bang Si-hyuk, global rankings and album sales figures show that demand for K-pop is now down.
“The absence of BTS is the first reason,” Bang said.
“I think BTS’s inactivity as a team obviously plays the biggest role in the change in that number,” he said at a forum in Seoul.
BTS are the most popular K-pop figures in the world, he said, adding: “When BTS is released, the market narrows considerably.”
His comments came days after HYBE called off a controversial takeover bid for rival SM Entertainment, ending a long-running, high-profile scandal over the company’s leadership.
He was met with hostility and accused of trying to monopolize K-pop, but Bang defended his move as a solution to K-pop’s slow growth.