BTS is a seven-member South Korean K-pop boy band formed in 2013 with the acronym “Beyond The Scene”. The group’s music focuses on the aspects of youth such as mental health, school and the struggle associated with attaining individualism as well as loving oneself. The group first received worldwide commercial success after the major single “Spring day” in their album You never walk alone, a repackaged edition of their second Korean studio album Wings, topped Korea’s major music billboards, entered US billboard’s bubbling under hot 100 singles at number 15 and won the title of “best song of the year” at the ninth annual Melon music awards. This breakthrough was followed by sold-out performances of the Wings tour with tickets selling out almost instantly, increasingly larger venues and more the need to incorporate additional shows due to the high demand for performances by fans, The tour was followed by the release of Love yourself-tear which, on its debut, entered the top ten UK albums chart and was ranked number one in the US Billboard 200. In this paper, an argument will be made to support the thesis that; BTS, through its music and influence, has contributed significantly to the revitalization of the South Korean economy as well as the spread of the South Korean language and culture.
BTS has enjoyed tremendous economic success since its inception in 2013 with KB Kookmn bank savings quadrupling after the signing of their contract with the group and bringing over 4 billion to the South Korean economy each year, which, according to research, is the equivalence of the contribution from 26 mid-sized companies. The band also contributed significantly to the popularity of the K-pop music industry worldwide. More than one billion dollars in consumer exports from South Korea is directly associated with the band as K-pop items sale witnessed a tremendous rise online after their mainstream breakthrough. Moreover, after the band topped the US Billboard, the stock prices of South Korea’s entertainment companies went up almost overnight. If the popularity of the band continues to grow in the same trajectory, they are projected to generate close to fifty trillion dollars for the South Korean economy in the next ten years.
BTS has been described by critics as the biggest boy band in the world, breaking the Guinness world record for the most tweeted celebrities two years in a row and being described as one of the 25 most influential people on the internet by Forbes magazine and an image of the band being featured on the Forbes 2018 cover that described the band as next-generation leaders. The band has utilized this huge platform to facilitate the spread of the South Korean culture around the world and their success in doing so was recognized by the South Korean cabinet when it decided to award the band with South Korea’s Orders of cultural merit in October 2018 for their tremendous contribution to the spread of the South Korean culture and language. The award was well deserved as fans reported to being inspired by the band’s music to learn the Korean language as well as visit South Korea in order to immerse themselves in the culture of their favourite band. According to research, the band’s activities are responsible for every one in thirteen tourists that visit South Korea.
However, the popularity of the boy band has not been without its drawbacks, in November of 2018 a Japanese TV show cancelled an appearance by BTS following the controversy that emerged after a photograph of one of the members of the band wearing a t-shirt depicting the atomic bombing of Japan by the US went viral on social media and caused widespread outrage among Japanese fans of the band who regarded the image as utterly insulting. This controversy could spark the question: Is BTS aware of the overwhelming capacity to influence it possesses, the significance of this influence and the responsibility that comes along with it?
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