How Will BTS’ Military Service Affect Their Careers? HYBE Chairman Bang Si-Hyuk Weighs In

The Big Hit founder discussed the impact of the group's current break in a new CNN interview.

BTS' next chapter will be one of growth and change. Big Hit founder and HYBE chairman Bang Si-hyuk gave an interview featured Thursday on CNN's Quest on Business, where he addressed BTS' current slow-down from group activities amid the members' South Korean military service and made reassurances about their future plans.

"From the career's point of view, no artist would be happy to have such a long pause against their will. I think it's a separate issue from the mindset that we faithfully and gladly serve the country. Yet BTS and I were talking about this since early 2018," Bang Si-hyuk said in the interview when asked about the members' military obligations. "So it's been long discussed, and we're not done yet."

"We've been prepared to turn this into a turning point in their career," said the 50-year-old producer, who professionally goes by Hitman Bang. "It's obviously true that they needed this time of rest after such an intense period of hard work. They can't remain the BTS of today, but need to grow and change as artists."

The group's eldest member, Jin, reported for mandatory military service in December 2022 with his fellow members seeing him off. J-Hope officially began the process of enlisting for military service, Big Hit announced in February, becoming the group's second member to do so.

Bang acknowledged the impact of BTS' break, which was announced last June during the group's ninth-anniversary celebrations, and expressed hope that K-pop as a whole can continue to grow and expand globally. (BTS has plans to "[reconvene] as a group again around 2025," Big Hit said in a statement at the time.)

"K-pop is not as hot in the market as you might perceive. Globally, it's not occupying much of the market. On the other hand, Latin music and Afrobeats are very rapidly growing. So, being where we are, it is more urgent to increase the exposure. For that purpose, I'm taking over labels and management companies in America to be able to build that infrastructure," he explained, admitting that his "major concern" is that the interest level won't be there as time goes on.

"In fact, looking at our export indicators and streaming growth, the slowdown in growth is very clear. It would be fortunate if this is a temporary phenomenon caused by BTS' military enlistment, but I doubt that," Bang answered in part.

Since BTS stepped back from group activities to focus on solo projects for the time being, the members have been keeping busy -- from ambassadorships with luxury fashion houses to album releases to various TV shows.

Following official solo releases by J-Hope, Jin and RM, Jimin will be the next member to drop his album on March 24: the six-track EP, Face. J-Hope will drop a special collaboration, titled "On the Street," with J. Cole on Friday. Suga, meanwhile, will kick off his first world tour, Agust D (a callback to his 2016 debut mixtape and solo moniker), on April 26 in New York before wrapping up in Japan. And V currently stars in the 10-episode cooking-travel reality series, Jinny's Kitchen, alongside Korean actors Lee Seo-jin and Jung Yu-mi, as well as real-life friends Choi Woo-sik and Park Seo-joon.