Bangtan Boys Generate Mountains of Cash for Korean Economy

  • By Oh Rora

    June 25, 2019 12:06

    The huge commercial success of boy superband Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS, is having a vivifying effect on several sectors of the Korean economy.

    The direct and indirect effect of BTS on Korea's tourism industry as well as markets for computer games, apparel, cosmetics and food is estimated at more than W5 trillion a year (US$1=W1,158).

    The Hyundai Research Institute forecast that BTS will generate W56 trillion for the economy from 2014 to 2023.

    Game developer Netmarble is unveiling "BTS World" in 176 countries on Wednesday and hopes to make hundreds of billions of won in sales. The game allows users to become the manager of a band and nurture it.

    Cape Investment and Securities estimates that 2.5 million people from around the globe will access the game each day and generate W2.1 billion in daily revenues.

    Naver's streaming video service V Live broadcast BTS' concert in Seoul on Sunday at a cost of W20,000 per person. At some 160,000 viewers that meant more than W3 billion in revenues during the three-hour run. More than 140,000 people also paid Naver W33,000 to watch BTS' concert at Wembley Stadium in London on June 3, 60 percent from countries other than Korea. 

    Bangtan Boys practice their dance moves in a scene from Netmarble's mobile game "BTS World."

    L&P Cosmetics, meanwhile, joined hands with BTS to produce a limited edition of 2,000 facial mask sets early last month that sold out in just three hours. "We produced another 50,000 sets the following week, and many foreign customers bought dozens of them," a staffer said.

    SKT, LG Uplus, Lotte Duty Free, Canon Korea and other big businesses set up publicity booths at a BTS global fan meet in Seoul last weekend. LG Uplus' booth featured virtual reality games and drew more than 10,000 visitors a day.

    Canon Korea's booth offered photo opportunities with life-size cutouts of BTS members, and fans from around the world, including the Middle East, Europe, China and Japan visited the booth.

    BTS seems to be creating whole new markets for computer games, character merchandizing, financial products, cosmetics and apparel. The tens of millions of BTS fans known as "the Army" boast tremendous purchasing power, and their presence online is creating new marketing methods.

    Overall Korean pop culture generated an estimated US$9.5 billion in exports last year, up 9.1 percent compared to 2017. Lee Gyu-tag at George Mason University Korea said, "The era has dawned where idol management companies become unicorns [start-ups valued at more than US$1 billion] and promote the global expansion of domestic companies." 

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