Bang Si Hyuk Almost Gave Up On HYBE — But He Couldn’t Give Up On BTS


Recently, HYBE‘s chairman, Bang Si Hyuk, confessed to going through difficulties in the early days of the company that made him almost close the company. However, he couldn’t give up on BTS.

BTS | @labels.hybe/Instagram

On November 1, Bang Si Hyuk and JYP Entertainment‘s founder Park Jin Young (also known as JYP or J.Y. Park) appeared on tvN‘s popular talk show, You Quiz on the Block, hosted by comedians Yoo Jae Suk and Jo Se Ho.

Yoo Jae Suk, Park Jin Young, Bang Si Hyuk, and Jo Se Ho (left to right) | @youquizontheblock/Instagram

During the interview, Bang Si Hyuk and Park Jin Young talked about their long history together: working as shareholders and co-managers of JYP Entertainment, writing songs together, living in the U.S. together for four months, and eventually, Bang Si Hyuk starting his own label, Big Hit Entertainment (now known as HYBE).

After starting Big Hit, things were not easy for Bang Si Hyuk. He confessed to facing financial difficulties during the early days when they were preparing for BTS because they had so much debt—to the point that he thought of shutting down his company.

A young Park Jin Young and Bang Si Hyuk | tvN

However, the vice president of the company helped him realize that whether he gives up the company or lets BTS do activities for one year, he’ll be in the same situation of not being able to pay off the debt and encouraged Bang Si Hyuk to keep trying.

At that time, I thought we should close the company. We were preparing for BTS, and the vice president asked me, ‘Do you not have confidence?’ I responded that I have confidence in the BTS members. When he asked me why I was giving up, I said it was becase we had debts of over ₩100 billion KRW (about $74.2 million USD). The vice president said, ‘You already can’t pay off this money with your current ability. And even if you run this group for a year, you’ll still be in the same position of not being able to pay it off.’

— Bang Si Hyuk


After much contemplating, Bang Si Hyuk decided not to give up on BTS.

I thought about it, and I believed that continuing was the right thing to do. The seven members each had their own talent and skill, and I felt a sense of duty to not leave these talented kids alone.

— Bang Si Hyuk

He then wanted to clarify that BTS has always been successful since their debut in 2013.

People think BTS didn’t do well initially, bu they were actually successful from the beginning. I know it sounds like a good story to say that they weren’t successful in the beginning but that they returned from the U.S. having succeeded. But that’s not it at all. They received all the rookie awards in the first year and were very successful.

— Bang Si Hyuk

BTS celebrates winning the Rookie Award in 2013. | @bts_bighit/Twitter

When asked if he ever felt the immensity of BTS’s popularity, Bang Si Hyuk shared that he felt BTS was special when the LA Times wrote a feature about them performing at the 2014 K-CON concert in their rookie days, where they performed as one of the opening acts.

Although Bang Si Hyuk felt that getting featured in the LA Times was special, his company employees told him he was “making a fuss” and that “this was normal in K-Pop.

The article about BTS in the LA Times | tvN

Bang Si Hyuk eventually believed he should step down in managing and let the employees take care of the business. This was also when “Fire” came out and gained immense popularity.

At that time, after I decided to bet on BTS when I was on the brink of failure, I realized that the company was in trouble because I was managing it. Then, I completely handed over the management rights. But 2015 was a turning point for BTS. That’s when their album The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1 became a huge hit. And I knew since then that they were different and that there had been no response like this in K-Pop.

— Bang Si Hyuk

Your browser does not support video.BTS’s “Fire” music video | HYBE 

After The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Part 1‘s success, he knew he had to bring BTS to the U.S. to see if global fans would react to their music the same way. However, the company employees were against him, saying, “You’re interfering with management again.”

However, Bang Si Hyuk didn’t give up. And that’s when BTS’s hit song “Fire” came out.

We had a huge argument but I said I couldn’t yield this time. Then, we released “Fire,” and it exploded globally… After that, I think destiny took over. It’s arrogant to say I created the current BTS.

— Bang Si Hyuk

| Yonhap News

He added that he trained BTS for a year and a half to prepare them for global activities, which is much longer than usual in the K-Pop industry.


Looking at the success and love BTS is receiving worldwide, it seems like Bang Si Hyuk made the right choice back then. He endured financial difficulties and overcame moments of wanting to give up because of his faith and trust in BTS and their determination and skills.

 “I decided to bet on BTS…” 

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