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BTS management company Big Hit proves a big hit on the South Korean stock market

By | Published on Thursday 15 October 2020


The music company behind BTS floated on the stock market in Seoul earlier today. A rapidly rising share price has given the company an initial valuation of 9.6 trillion South Korean wong (that’s $8.3 billion or £6.4 billion).

You could say that that valuation proves K-pop is good business. Although, in reality, it’s BTS that provides Big Hit with 90% of its revenues. With such a heavy reliance on one act, that could put the company in a precarious position. Particularly with the question of all seven of the band members’ outstanding military service still hanging over them. It is mandatory in South Korea for all able-bodied men between eighteen and 28 to serve two years in the country’s military.

Although the South Korean government has previously ruled out offering exemptions to members of the group based solely on their k-pop stardom, there have been signs of that stance softening somewhat in recent weeks. In the past, exemptions and deferrals have been granted to classical musicians and athletes with an international following. However, to date, being a K-pop star has never been considered a good enough reason to avoid conscription.

Nevertheless, with BTS contributing a significant sum to the country’s GDP annually – and with their fame apparently yet to peak – there have been calls for a rethink. On Tuesday, South Korean defence minister Suh Wook said that it may be possible for the group to defer their service. Big Hit’s stock market success will undoubtedly put further pressure on the government to make that decision. With the band’s oldest member Jin about to turn 28, the clock is ticking.

Although not yet serving in the military, comments on South Korea’s military activities landed the group in hot water earlier this week too. On this occasion, it was China they offended, after band leader RM made comments about the Korean War while accepting an award celebrating relations between the US and South Korea.

“We will always remember the history of pain that our two nations shared together and the sacrifices of countless men and women”, he said.

Some fans and officials in China – which fought alongside North Korea in the war – expressed anger at the comments, noting that lives had been lost on the other side too. Some online ads featuring the band were apparently pulled in China following the comments.

China isn’t the only country BTS have offended. Two years ago, they had a performance on Japanese TV cancelled after the band’s Jimin wore an atomic bomb t-shirt.

With so much reliant on BTS’s continued international success, Big Hits’ new shareholders will likely be keen for the band’s members to be careful what they say and what t-shirts they wear. Those shareholders do, however, include the band members themselves, who were each given 68,000 shares in Big Hit, making them instant multi-millionaires.