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BTS members cash in Hybe shares as uncertainty still hangs over military service

By | Published on Friday 3 December 2021


If you’re expecting a Christmas present from BTS members Jin, J-Hope or RM, they better get you something nice, because those guys are quids in at the moment. All three just offloaded a stack of shares in their management company Hybe, pocketing $8.4 million between them.

The musicians got shot of the shares between mid-October and early November, reports Bloomberg. They all did so just before the shares hit their latest peak in mid-November – reaching more than double the starting price from when the company first IPO-ed in October 2020.

Jin offloaded 16,000 shares for $4.1 million, J-Hope sold 5601 shares for $1.57 million, and RM got shot of 10,385 shares for a cool $2.75 million.

So they’re doing alright. That’s also only a portion of the shares they own. When the company went public, the group’s seven members were handed 478,695 shares – or a 1.41% stake in the company – to share equally between them.

Hybe posted record profits in the third quarter of this year, possibly prompting the share sale. Although profits are expected to be high in the final three months of the year too.

Although Hybe is looking to become less reliant on BTS for its revenues, increased activity from the group is in a large part the reason for the surging income. Efforts are being made to get as much money out of them as possible before members have to start serving their mandatory military service.

A law change in Korea previously allowed the group’s oldest member Jin to defer the start of his military service. Men in the country are supposed to start a two year stint in the military before they turn 28. The legislation – which some in the music industry complained was designed so that it would only benefit members of BTS – extended the deadline for K-pop stars who had received government medals for their past achievements to their 30th birthday.

BTS received such medals in 2018 and Jin’s 29th birthday is tomorrow, which currently gives the group a further year before members have to start dropping out.

There had been calls to let BTS off entirely – such is their importance to the South Korean economy. And despite the recent law change, those calls continue, with another proposed revision to the rules currently working its way through the country’s parliament. That change would exempt entirely artists who made significant contributions in the national interest to their field of work for a period of at least 34 months.

Similar exemptions are currently possible for classical musicians and athletes who have had international success. Many argue that the massive and continued success of BTS worldwide warrants such special treatment to be extended to them also. However, not all agree, and last week the minister who oversees the country’s military, Boo Seung-chan, warned against changing the law further.

He argued that the country’s shrinking population means that it needs all the young men it can get for its army, and he expressed concerns over what the general public would think was fair.

Right now, BTS have other things to worry about though, such as their appearance at this year’s Mnet Asian Music Awards in Seoul. Or lack of appearance, as now seems to be the case.

South Korea has just announced a ten day quarantine period on all international arrivals in the country, starting tomorrow, in response to the new omicron variant of COVID-19. This is a problem for BTS because they are currently in Los Angeles, where they are set to perform at the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball Tour tomorrow.

The MAMAs are set to take place next Friday, which would seemingly rule BTS out of appearing at the event in person. However, broadcaster Mnet has currently only said that the matter is under discussion.

Last year the group won eight prizes at the major South Korean music industry event, including all four of the top awards – Artist Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Worldwide Icon Of The Year. No shortlists are published for those particular prizes, but the group are already up for four other awards again this year.

Organisers already announced in November that, while this year’s ceremony would be a physical event, the number of attendees would be limited in accordance with national guidelines. BTS are not scheduled to perform at this year’s show, which at least makes for less of a headache if they can’t be there. Although this year’s headline performer is Ed Sheeran, who has co-written songs for the group – so maybe he was planning to bring them out as surprise guests.

That said, if Sheeran’s not in South Korea yet, it looks like he won’t be appearing at the event either. Last week he was in Ukraine shooting a new music video, and this week he appeared in a video with Italian internet comedian Khamby Lame. It seems unlikely that he’s in Seoul already, but we will see.