In a recent broadcast of tvN’s You Quiz on the Block, JYP and HYBE’s Bang Si Hyuk made a guest appearance. Bang Si Hyuk shared the riveting narrative of Big Hit’s early days and the journey that led to the present-day global phenomenon, BTS.
Reminiscing about a tough time, he said, “The company was really struggling. I thought we might have to fold. At that time, we were preparing BTS. The VP once asked me, ‘Are you not confident?’ And I replied, ‘I have utmost confidence in these boys.’ However, we had a debt of several billion won (roughly several million USD).”
He continued to reflect, “Each of the seven members had their unique talents and abilities. I felt a sense of duty that I couldn’t give up on such skilled individuals.” Contrary to public perception, BTS was successful from the start. Emphasizing this, Bang said, “People think BTS struggled in the early days, but they were a success from the get-go. They won all the best new artist awards in their first year.”
Host Yoo Jae Suk then inquired about the moment he felt BTS was onto something big. Bang recalled, “In 2014, at an LA K-pop concert, BTS wasn’t the headliner but one of the opening acts. Yet, they received a major feature in the LA Times. That’s when my expectations soared.” However, the executives had different opinions.
“After handing over management control, in 2015, BTS released HYYH which made a massive splash. I was certain at that time. We needed to test the U.S. market with music tailored for it and gauge the real reactions of fans there. The company was in an uproar. They thought I was interfering in management again. We had heated arguments, but I said I’m not backing down this time. Then we released ‘Fire,’ and it went global,” he articulated.
Adding to this, he said, “When analyzing the data, especially Google search metrics, I believed if the trend continued, they could reach the prime days of One Direction. Everything after that seemed like destiny pulling us along. To say that I alone made BTS what they are today is sheer arrogance.”
JYP, talking about the global sensation BTS, reminisced, “I remember seeing them at an awards show. They are my brother’s kids. I was so delighted that I raised a toast to them. They might not feel the same about me, but to me, they’re like my nephews.”
Meanwhile, when asked about renewing BTS’s contract, Bang said, “An artist of BTS’s caliber doesn’t lack options. The fact that they chose to re-sign with us speaks volumes about our history together. As the head of a label, it was like BTS acknowledged me about the journey we took together. It felt like an award to me.”
He went on, “The BTS boys told me, ‘We’re going to trust you..’ Honestly, in the 20 years since I chose a career in management, that’s probably my happiest memory. It made me realize what it feels like to be stress-free,” he said with a chuckle.