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Who Is Bang Si-Hyuk, the Billionaire Mastermind and Media Mogul Behind BTS?

He was the group’s greatest backer and first fan.   
IMAGE HYBE CORPORATION
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Rarely do you encounter a media mogul who’s respected almost as much as the musical acts he manages. Bang Si-Hyuk is one such mogul whose steadfast support of his musical groups has endeared him to fans in South Korea and beyond. The mastermind behind BTS and the band’s first unofficial fan, Bang is now one of the wealthiest men in Korea.

Despite the massive success of BTS, Bang Si-Hyuk prefers to stay out of the limelight in deference to his artists, but as ARMY knows, BTS wouldn’t exist without the business acumen and musical genius of Bang. Here are six essential facts about the BTS billionaire.

1| He’s the founder and CEO of Hybe Corp.

Bang founded Big Hit Entertainment (now Hybe Corporation) in 2005. In the early 2000s, he made a name for himself in the Korean music scene as a “hit maker”—hence his nickname “Hitman"—alongside colleague Park Jin-young, who founded JYP Entertainment, another top entertainment company in Korea. Bang worked with Park at JYP for a few years composing and producing hit music before breaking off to start his own company, Big Hit Entertainment.

Big Hit changed its name to Hybe Corporation in March 2021, and has since evolved from a purely music producing company to a more diversified entertainment and tech company. Hybe recently invested $3.6 million in an AI company called Supertone that creates realistic voices. Hybe also has its own social media platform dubbed Weverse that connects the music groups of Hybe directly with the fans.

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2| He’s the wealthiest man in Korean entertainment.

Just this month, Bang broke into Forbes Korea’s 50 Richest People list in 2021 and now ranks as the 16th richest man in the country with an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, making him the richest man in Korean entertainment. Bang’s wealth skyrocketed into billionaire status when his company, then Big Hit Entertainment, launched on the Korean Exchange in late 2020 and became one of the country’s biggest IPOs in the last few years.

Bang is currently chairman and CEO of Hybe.

3| He still has a controlling stake over Hybe Corp.

Despite the fact that his company went public in late 2020, Bang has still managed to retain a controlling stake in Hybe, a rare feat for most public company founders. He is currently the majority shareholder with control over 34.74 percent of shares. Meanwhile, Korean gaming company Netmarble Games is the second largest shareholder with 19.90 percent of shares. Netmarble Games is owned by Bang Joon-Hyuk, cousin of Bang Si-Hyuk.

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4| His company almost shut down due to bankruptcy.

After starting Big Hit in 2005, by 2007, the company was facing bankruptcy. It only had four employees left and was close to shutting down, but managed to survive thanks to a few successful hits. Then the journey to BTS began. BTS started forming in 2010 and after three years of training, the group—composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—debuted in 2013. The band was initially viewed as an “underdog” in the Korean music industry since they came from a smaller company, but eventually, Bang’s investment in the band paid off for him, the boys, and the company as eight years later, BTS is now the biggest musical presence in the world.

5| He’s now a media mogul.

A media mogul, by definition, is a legitimate influencer in the media industry. Not only does Bang oversee BTS, a global phenomenon, but his recent 100 percent acquisition of Ithaca Holdings from Scooter Braun now puts A-list Western musicians Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande on his portfolio. Hybe is purchasing Ithaca, through its newly formed American subsidiary Hybe America, for roughly $1.05 billion.

Meanwhile, juggernaut media company Warner Bros. is rumored to be investing $400 billion in Hybe in exchange for 5.9 percent equity and sole rights to BTS concert shows and documentaries to be streamed on HBO Max.

6| He’s his artists’ biggest fan.

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One would think that a busy CEO like Bang wouldn’t have time to spend with his bands, but according to one of HYBE’s groups, TXT, Bang and the group have their own group chat that’s regularly active. As for BTS, Bang regularly attends concerts, purchases merchandise at stalls, and hangs out with the artists under Hybe. The familiarity and closeness between boss and artist is notable, and likely explains Bang’s deep understanding of fan power and influence.

Criminally underrated, Bang has perfected the K-pop business model, revolutionized the industry, and built a media empire in the process. Not bad for a guy who was almost bankrupt 15 years ago.  

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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