Following BTS’ announcement of a “hiatus,” their management label HYBE Co. lost $1.7 billion in market cap, a massive dip that did not reverse even after the group clarified, “We are not disbanding.”
The company’s stock price plunged a whopping 28%, The New York Times reports, reaching an all-time low of about $108 (139,000 won) per share. HYBE, which was founded as Big Hit Entertainment and which rebranded in 2021, made about $1 billion last year, with BTS alone accounting for a 58% increase in revenue over 2020.
The news is seen as a bearish sign for South Korea’s economy, where BTS contribute about $3.5 billion annually. The Korea Culture and Tourism Institute had thought that the Bangtan Boys would generate even more income as pandemic restrictions loosened, noting that a single BTS concert could earn $500 million or more.
On June 14th, BTS released a video where they discussed taking a break to pursue solo projects. “I think we should spend some time apart to learn how to be one again,” said J-Hope. “I hope you don’t see this as a negative thing, and see it as a healthy plan. I think BTS will become stronger that way.”
SUGA added, “It’s not like we’re disbanding!” But the announcement was quickly seen through a pessimistic lens, and South Korean media linked the hiatus to the oldest member of the group, Jin, who is expected to enroll in mandatory military service by the end of the year.
In an attempt to quell their fanbase’s panic, BTS released a second statement on June 15th, emphasizing that all seven will “remain active in various different formats,” including as a group. There may be less anxiety among the BTS ARMY, but HYBE’s stock price has not recovered.
This “second chapter” has already begun, and J-Hope is set to headline the closing night of Lollapalooza as a solo artist. Last week, the group unveiled the compilation album PROOF.