The “BTS Effect” on South Korea’s Economy, Industry and Culture

Wandering Shadow
May 30 · 6 min read
South Korea (Photo by Shawn Ang on Unsplash)

Global artist BTS is breaking barriers and records around the world proving their status as the current biggest boy band in the world. They grabbed the number one spots in music official charts in USA, UK, Australia, Canada etc. and had many award wins in music award shows around the world. They performed (and still performing) in the biggest stadiums that hold important historical moments in music. Outside music, they used their global popularity to launch the “Love Myself” global campaign to fight against violence. Their humanitarian work allowed them to give speech at the United Nations as UNICEF’s global ambassadors. Even TIME Magazine called them the “Next Generation Leaders” and one of the “Most Influential People of 2019”. They are making unprecedented history as Koreans and as artists.

But with the passage of time, analysts have been noticing that BTS’s impact is not only restricted to music and humanitarian work, but it is also positively influencing their own homeland and culture worldwide. Several institutes have provided data and results that indicate that the “BTS Effect” is contributing to South Korea in terms of culture, economy and industry in the following major points:


Economic Effect of More than 5.5 Trillion Won per Year

On Dec, 2018, the Hyundai Research Institute (HRI) reported (check the original Korean report here) that BTS generates an estimated amount of 4 trillion won ($3.54 billion) as economic value to the country per year and 1.42 trillion won ($1.26 billion) as added value per year.

Now according to the latest report, the economic effect is currently at $4.9 billion which is around 5.6 Trillion won.

What many don’t realize is that this is an impressive contribution since no Korean artist has brought such a huge economic effect in South Korea. Korean artist Psy (famous for his global viral song “Gangnam Style”) brought economic value of 1 trillion won while Korean actor Bae Yong Joon brought an economic value of around 3 trillion won via his lead role in the famous Korean drama (K-Drama) “Winter Sonata” (the K-Drama was a mega huge hit in Asia). The fact BTS managed to surpass them is mind-blogging.

HRI predicted that BTS’s 10-year economic impact will reach 56.2 trillion won ($49.8 billion). This number will easily surpass the PyeongChang Winter Olympics 2018 which reached 41.6 trillion won.

According to an academic report, BTS was also responsible for creating another economic effect of 481.3 billion won from the “BTS 5th Muster (Magic Shop)” concerts alone which were held in Busan and Seoul on June, 2019 (135.5 billion won from the concerts in Busan and 345.8 billion won from concerts in Seoul). For Busan and Seoul, this is equal to the 1.6% and 0.9% of the two cities’ GDP in 2018 respectively.

Increase of Tourism

According to HRI, 796,000 foreigners visit South Korea annually because of BTS, promoting the local tourism industry. Out of the 10.41 million people, 7.6% of the visits in 2017 were influenced by the Korean group. HRI also stated that one in every thirteen foreign tourists visited South Korea in 2017 thanks to BTS.

Before BTS, 650,000 tourists visited the Nami Island in Chuncheon in 2002 after “Winter Sonata” was broadcasted (Nami Island is one of the filming sites). Psy’s “Gangnam Style” also helped in boosting tourism in 2012 (unfortunately, there is no official data to show how much influence he brought).

The Seoul Metropolitan Government gave credit to BTS in helping recover the Seoul’s tourism industry which was negatively affected by the THAAD ban. The Korea Tourism Organization even conducted a survey on the most popular spots in South Korea where the top five locations selected were BTS-related places.

It is rare for any country to have a boost in the tourism industry contributed by a specific group of people rather than sights or events.

Increase of South Korea’s Consumer Good Exports

On Dec, 2018, HRI also revealed that BTS is responsible for contributing $1.1 billion (1.7%) to the total Korean consumer goods export which was $65.2 billion in 2017. 1.7% is a big percentage being contributed by just one Korean artist alone. Another reason why this is huge is because according to the International Trade Center’s data and World’s Top Exports report, export goods such as cosmetics, food, clothing (where BTS had a compelling impact) are considered important exports of South Korea.

According to the latest report, BTS has an effect on the following consumer goods: Clothing = $2.026 billion, Cosmetics = $2.8 billion, and food = $3.96 billion.

In the car industry, BTS are currently the global ambassadors of Hyundai Motor’s SUV “Palisade”. According to SM2 Networks, Hyundai Motor received 600 billion won ($504 million) in promotional results from the collaboration with the group, proving the power of the “BTS Effect”.

Increase of South Korea’s BOP

The Bank of Korea Economic Statistics System stated that South Korea’s BOP (balance of payments which is the total economic transactions between a country and the world) for music and entertainment reached $114.7 million in the first quarter of 2019 due to 2 main reasons: the improved relationship between China and South Korea and the global success of BTS.

What’s interesting is that this is the highest BOP surplus recorded since the third quarter of 2016 which was recorded at $132.4 million. The fact BTS contributed in improving the BOP surplus is remarkable.

Improvement of Investment Stocks for Entertainment Agencies

When China imposed the THAAD ban in 2016, the stocks of entertainment companies were badly affected because China is one of the the top countries for Korean entertainment in terms of investment and export. Thanks to BTS, the investment stocks of the entertainment companies improved and they are focusing on the American and European markets.

The Growth of Korean Hallyu Wave

According to a government-affiliated Korea Foundation, it was reported that BTS lead a 22% increase of Korean Hallyu fans worldwide in 2018 (Korean Hallyu means the increase in popularity of Korean music, films, TV shows and language).

It’s natural that through BTS, who is the biggest boy band in the world, people are taking interest in Korean culture such as Korean shows, dramas, food and the Korean language.

Speaking of Korean language and culture…..

Promoter of Korean Language & Culture

The World Economic Forum (an international forum for powerful business leaders, international political leaders, top economists etc.) made a special report where they talked about BTS and globalization. BTS’s global success is going against the “cultural odds” because (1) American culture is the main “global” culture around the world (making English the global language) and (2) Korean is not even in the top 10 of the world’s most spoken languages, making their success even more astonishing. BTS are showcasing their Korean culture and language worldwide through their music and ideas fighting against all odds.

According to the National Gugak Center, there was also an increase in demand and interest for Korean traditional sounds resulting in the introduction of sounds of 50 more instruments. This was due to the live performance of BTS’s worldwide hit song “IDOL” at the Melon Music Awards 2018 where they fused traditional Korean sounds with the song attracting both local and global audiences.

The civic group Nation’s People Preserving the Korean Language chose BTS as the “Top Promoter of the Korean Language” of 2018 for promoting and increasing the interest of the Korean language around the world.


The Verdict

So we can see that it is rare for a single Korean artist to make such an impact on the economy, industry and culture of a nation. Looking at the confirmed data, it is no surprise that BTS is South Korea’s national treasure and pride who is bringing positive influence with authenticity and sincerity.

Local businesses in other countries are also gaining benefit from BTS e.g. there is an increase of trend for apartment rentals and home stays as millions of fans from around 80 countries travel to attend BTS’s worldwide concerts. Also, according to a recent report, BTS’s economic impact on London is roughly estimated to be 100 billion won ($84 million) due to their 2 sold out shows at Wembley Stadium.

BTS (Photo by @bts_bighit from Twitter)

BTS’s popularity is growing day by day so it will be interesting to see how higher the “BTS Effect” will go in future.

Music related records can be made or broken but it is rare to find someone (not to mention an artist) helping a country’s economy and culture at this level.

Wandering Shadow

Written by

I love to serve tea, data and facts about BTS. I write according to my mood and the latest news. Follow me or DM me on Twitter: @shadow_twts

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