The BBC called it “the Beatles for the 21st century” and Time magazine included it on its list of the most influential people of 2019.
K-pop’s premier act Bangtan Boys, better known as BTS, has earned numerous accolades worldwide in emerging as a global cultural phenomenon.
This year, the group held 62 concerts in 23 cities of 13 countries including New York, London and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The performances were held under the theme of the BTS EP “Love Yourself” and stressed the importance of self-love and love for others to the estimated 2.06 million members of Army, the group’s massive global fan club.
Last year on Sept. 25, BTS demonstrated the extent of its powerful influence abroad by delivering a speech at the U.N. General Assembly. This year, they held concerts in New York’s Citi Field and London’s Wembley Stadium, two venues reserved only for the absolute cream of the crop in pop music.
BTS also held a solo concert in Saudi Arabia, a conservative Islamic country.
Global media as well as fans also showered the group’s music with praise.
In April, BTS became the third group in 50 years to have three No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 chart in less than a year, prompting CNN to say that through this milestone, the boy band “join(ed) the ranks of the Beatles and the Monkees.”
The phenomenal global interest in BTS is transcending the fields of fandom and music, leading many to analyze the group’s social and economic impacts and prospects and publishing books on such topics.
BTS’s economic effect has also gone through the roof. In June, Hyundai Research Institute released a report analyzing the factors behind BTS’ success and how to utilize it.
The report estimated the group’s economic effect at KRW 4.14 trillion based on revenue earned from foreign fans visiting the venues where BTS’ music videos were filmed, the group’s concerts at home and abroad, and other BTS-related sites. The figure is 26 times the average amount of annual sales of all Korean mid-size companies.
If BTS maintains its monster popularity for a decade, the report predicted, its economic effect will jump another tenfold in amount.
Bang Si-hyuk, CEO of BTS’ management agency Big Hit Entertainment, on Nov. 25 said in his keynote address to the 2019 Culture Innovation Forum in Busan, “People around the world are voluntarily translating the songs, dialogue and messages of BTS and have made BTS the Beatles of the YouTube era.”
He said the group’s music has “a message that needs to be thrown in this era” and is essential as music with “good content,” adding that BTS will continue conveying such a message in its songs.