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BTS, whose label, Hybe, has lost US$10 billion in market value because of uncertainty about group members’ military service and their focus on solo projects. Photo: @bts.bighitofficial/Instagram

BTS label Hybe’s share price plunges below IPO price on market concern over group’s solo projects announcement and members’ military service

  • Hybe’s shares dropped to below their IPO price this week, underscoring its reliance on BTS, its biggest act, and uncertainty about the future for group members
  • They haven’t been exempted from looming military service in Korea, and an announcement in June that they would focus on solo projects added to the uncertainty

Shares of K-pop juggernaut BTS’ managing agency tumbled below the initial public offering price for the first time, extending a rout that’s wiped about US$10 billion in market value from the peak.

Hybe dropped 7.1 per cent to 130,000 won (US$90) on Wednesday, below its 135,000 won debut price. The stock has languished since a June plunge, when the boy band made a shocking announcement about shifting to solo projects, with the members’ looming military service adding to the uncertainty.
Their military duty, mandatory for all South Korean men over a certain age, has re-emerged as a national hot potato after the government floated the idea of an opinion poll late August. While the proposal was scrapped within days following public backlash, lingering speculation that BTS may be allowed exemptions to keep performing has been causing wild price swings.

In the nine years since their debut, BTS have racked up record-breaking hits and video views, including the fastest accumulation of No 1 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 since Michael Jackson. The stock peaked in November 2021 as Hybe announced investments in Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Hybe’s share price has been affected by concerns about its over-reliance on BTS (above). Photo: @bts.bighitofficial/Instagram

But although their global fan base remains intact, share prices have been on a downward trend this year as investors worry over Hybe’s over-reliance on BTS and what would happen if members did their military service, which lasts for at least 18 months.

The group is so huge that a government minister fretted it would cause a “cultural loss for mankind” if BTS had to suspend its work to enlist. The band’s oldest member, Jin, 29, needs to sign up for military service before the end of this year.