Bang—the man behind pop superstars, BTS—makes his Forbes Korea's Richest List debut at number 16, boasting a net worth of US$2.7 billion
48-year-old Bang is the founder and CEO of Hybe Corporation (previously Big Hit Entertainment), the label of the pop juggernauts BTS. He's also an honouree of Tatler's Asia's Most Influential: Culture List 2021.
Bang's debut on the richest list is partly thanks to the much-awaited IPO of the company in Seoul last year which generated a lot of buzz as it pulled off South Korea's biggest stock market listing in three years. This made Bang a billionaire and the septet millionaires, each receiving shares of their own in the company.
But Bang's wealth continued to soar after acquiring Scooter Braun's Ithaca Holdings—which represents Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber—for US$1.05 billion to expand its footprint overseas. Bang's net worth is now valued at US$2.7 billion. While Hybe is currently South Korea's most valuable entertainment agency, it wasn't always the case. In fact, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in 2007 with only four employees.
Bang who previously worked as a composer for JYP Entertainment, one of the country's "Big Three" music agencies, founded the company in 2005 and formed BTS in 2013. The band was considered an underdog group coming from a "small and unknown company" in the K-pop scene.
Despite the challenges, Bang's vision as a marketer, producer and his continuous faith in the group combined with the septet's passion for music and talent for creating songs that speak to their fans allowed the band to beat the odds. And that explains how BTS is the biggest group today. They recently just made history again with their latest summer hit, Butter, debuting at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making them the first group in history to debut three songs on the rankings.
Bang's net worth and the company's value easily triumphs over the original "Big Three" labels—JYP Entertainment, SM Entertainment and YG Entertainment—and created his own empire from the ground up. Despite the pandemic, Hybe recorded a net income of US$77.6 million in 2020, which was a 19.1 per cent increase compared to their previous year's earnings.
Hybe continues to expand, making a deal to merge the community platform services of Hybe and Naver, South Korea's leading search engine site and teaming up with Universal Music Group in the US to launch a new boy group through a global audition. It was reported that Warner Bros is also preparing to invest in Hybe.