The Korean pop band BTS announced Tuesday they would take a break from group musical activities to do individual projects.
Many in South Korea reacted with surprise at the news the seven-member K-pop group presented in a video release.
"I could relate to them as they shed tears and honestly told us how they felt," fan Nini Lee told Reuters from an eatery in Seoul where she had gathered with other fans.
"Their voice gave me huge strength when I had tough times ...Now I want to give my voice of courage to them,” she added.
Kim Young-sun runs the eatery. She said she felt sorry that she as a fan had only wanted more from BTS at a time when they were struggling. She wished them a well-earned break.
In the video, BTS Leader and rapper RM said he had "felt guilty and afraid" to ask for the rest that he really needed.
Singer Jimin said they were struggling to find their identity in what he called an "exhausting process.” RM added that the K-pop industry could not provide young artists with "time to mature.”
Jung Duk-hyun is a South Korean pop culture writer. He observed that the Korean music industry has long centered on making money. He added, “The stars cannot take a rest even when they burned themselves out.”
On social media, some other fans blamed BTS' management group HYBE for pushing for new albums and other money-making opportunities. The company did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Tuesday's unexpected announcement caused anger among investors in HYBE. Its shares dropped 25 percent on Wednesday, losing nearly $1.55 billion of its market value.
"They've planted 'dynamite' in the hearts of shareholders," one person wrote on a Samsung Securities stock trading site. The word “dynamite” refers to a BTS hit song.
HYBE shares had performed relatively poorly in recent months. The company's chief executive and some BTS members sold stock totaling $7.75 million in December.
All able-bodied South Korean men are required to have about two years of military service. The oldest member of BTS, Jin, is required to begin his duty next year.
Korean legislators are still deciding on a bill pushing to provide military exemptions to world-famous artists. There is continued debate over whether BTS should have similar benefits that athletes enjoy.
Lee Ki-hoon is a financial expert at Hana Financial Investment Co. Ltd. He wrote in a report that BTS' lack of public activity could result in an income loss of about $581 million dollars in 2023.
Words in This Story
courage - n. the ability to meet danger and difficulties with firmness
exhausting - adj. making one feel very tired; very tiring