SEOUL: BTS, the seven-member South Korean band that spearheaded a global K-pop craze, is taking a hiatus as a group to work on solo projects, members announced on Tuesday, 14 June. BTS fans said they were left in tears and sympathized with the band, while shareholders in their management company were left fuming.
In a video released by record label Big Hit Music, the group were seen having their annual Festa dinner, which also marked the group's ninth anniversary.
Group leader and rapper RM was critical of the pressures K-pop artistes faced, saying it did not provide performers with "time to mature". Singer Jimin added that members of the band were having a "tough time" establishing their identity, labelling it an "exhausting" process.
Many in South Korea reacted with shock and dismay at the news of the group’s hiatus, with some of its seven members approaching military service age, also triggered speculation about the future of a band whose upbeat hits and messages of youth empowerment have turned them into global stars.
Kim Young-sun, who runs a BTS-themed cafe, said she felt sorry that she as a fan had only wanted more from the group at a time when they were struggling, wishing them a well-deserved break to recharge their batteries.
South Korean cultural critic Jung Duk-hyun said the K-pop industry had long been running on a profit-making system where stars were unable to take a rest, even when burned out.
The unexpected announcement also fueled anger among investors in HYBE, which went public two years ago and whose shares plunged 25% on Wednesday, 15 June, wiping nearly 2 trillion won (US $1.55 billion) off its market value.
BTS made its debut in June 2013 and became a worldwide sensation with its upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people. The group had just released a new album on 10 June and met U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.