How Did BTS Become Victims in a Smear Campaign Despite Organic Success

BTS ARMY is Just a Bunch of Screaming Fans
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BTS, the global sensation known for their record-breaking achievements and positive influence, has unwittingly become collateral damage in a legal battle between their parent company, Hybe Corporation, and Min Hee-jin, the CEO of Hybe’s label, ADOR. BTS was dragged into this issue due to some claims she made, followed by an online smear campaign in South Korea. Despite their organic success and remarkable contributions to South Korea’s cultural wave, how did BTS become victims embroiled in a corporate battle and a smear campaign? We’ll delve into their meteoric rise, the background of the conflict between Hybe and Min Hee-jin, and the damaging rumors tarnishing BTS’s image.

The Organic Success of BTS

The Humble Beginnings

BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) debuted under Big Hit Entertainment in 2013. Producer Bang Si-hyuk led this small, virtually unknown company. Without industry backing, BTS started from scratch and was often seen performing in modest settings with limited resources. Their music addresses societal pressure, mental health, youth, and ordinary personal challenges, resonating with people worldwide.

The Breakthrough and Global Rise

The group’s big break came in 2015 with the release of “I Need U,” a single that gained significant domestic and international attention. By 2017, BTS broke records with their “Love Yourself” series, garnering multiple Billboard and American Music Awards. In 2020, their hit single “Dynamite” became the first song by a Korean group to top the Billboard Hot 100 chart. BTS is also the only Grammy-nominated artist in South Korea.

  • Social Media Influence: BTS’s organic success was partly driven by their innovative use of social media. With millions of followers on social media, their direct engagement with fans, known as ARMY, played a pivotal role in their international appeal.
  • Economic Contribution: According to the Hyundai Research Institute, BTS contributes over $4.65 billion annually to South Korea’s economy. Additionally, their merchandise consistently sold out, and stadium tours were fully booked, demonstrating their success was genuinely organic. A prime example of this is BTS’s ARMY selling out Hyundai cars when the group endorsed them, with demand for the Palisade model increasing so rapidly that Hyundai struggled to meet it. Furthermore, Wembley Stadium’s 90,000 seats sold out in just 90 minutes, further evidencing the immense global demand for BTS.

Achievements and Global Impact

  • UN General Assembly: BTS was invited to speak at the United Nations in 2018 and 2021, delivering powerful messages on self-acceptance and youth empowerment.
  • Cultural Ambassadors: They were awarded the Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit in 2018 for promoting Korean culture globally.
  • Record Sales: With over 32 million albums sold, BTS is the best-selling music act in South Korean history.

The Hybe and Min Hee-jin Conflict

Evolution of Big Hit into Hybe Corporation

In 2021, Big Hit Entertainment evolved into Hybe Corporation, expanding beyond its original music label. This strategic shift involved acquiring labels like Source Music and Pledis Entertainment and opening branches in the U.S. and Japan. Korea’s FTC officially designated HYBE as a conglomerate on May 2024, marking the first time an entertainment company has achieved this status.

Introduction of NewJeans and Min Hee-jin

Hybe appointed Min Hee-jin, known for her work at SM Entertainment, as CEO to lead the Ador label under Hybe. Ador girl group, NewJeans, was presented as the “little sisters of BTS” and made an explosive debut in 2022. This association with BTS significantly boosted their promotions by leveraging BTS’s global popularity, allowing them to capture international attention quickly.

Allegations and Legal Proceedings

In a dramatic twist, Hybe accused Min Hee-jin of plotting a coup to take over Ador and leave Hybe. Specific allegations included:

  • External Financiers: Contacting outside financiers to fund her project.
  • Secret Conversations: Conversations with a shaman about her intentions.
  • Intellectual Property Theft: Alleged theft of NewJeans’ concept for another girl group, ILLIT.

Hybe filed legal proceedings to oust her. Min Hee-jin fired back with a press conference, revealing private messages with Bang Si-hyuk and painting herself as a victim of corporate injustice despite being one of the highest-paid CEOs of the corporation. Min Hee-jin also complained about the unfair treatment towards her girl group, NewJeans. However, Hybe paid about 5 billion KRW each to those group members in their debut year alone and provided them with luxury dorms and high-end practice rooms. Furthermore, Hybe supported NewJeans with extensive promotional backing, ensuring they received heavy media coverage and international exposure.

Collateral Damage: BTS Caught in the Crossfire

Rumors and Defamation

As the legal battle between Hybe and Min Hee-jin escalated, BTS became collateral damage. Several netizens started posting their theories and started posting rumors of various allegations. Media outlets in South Korea began publishing these rumors, targeting the group.

The allegations include:

  1. Claims that BTS is linked to a religious cult.
  2. Accusations of purchasing awards and manipulating records.
  3. Allegations of plagiarism.

1. Claims that BTS is linked to a religious cult.

Six BTS members graduated from the Global Cyber University, founded by the creator of Dahn World. However, no evidence suggests any connection between BTS and the founder’s beliefs. The alleged organization, Dahn World, has issued an official notice denying any connections with BTS. Global Cyber University, which offers online education, is famous among Korean idols and superstars.

2. Award Buying: Accusations of purchasing awards and manipulating records.

BTS is now the most-awarded artist, having won over 1,400 physical awards in just ten years. These awards and honors are not limited to Korea but worldwide. Fan voting, album sales and streaming stats, and panels of judges determine them. Given the diverse criteria for these awards, the suggestion that BTS’s inorganic success is implausible. Where would their passionate fans come from to fill arenas and stadiums worldwide if their success was bought?

3. Plagiarism: Allegations of copying other artists’ music.

BTS is known for writing their own music and lyrics, primarily based on personal experiences. The members are talented songwriters and producers, contributing to almost every track they release. Their distinctive style reflects their individuality, and their creative process involves collaborative efforts within the group, solidifying their authenticity and originality. BTS Chapter 2, which features solo work by each member, serves as a prime example of their artistic independence. The documentaries released during this period further illustrate their creative process and underscore their artistry.

Internationally unsubstantiated, these rumors have gained traction in South Korea, tarnishing BTS’s reputation. Big Hit Music, BTS’s label under Hybe, took swift action by involving a law firm to prosecute those behind the rumors and identify malicious publishers.

Impact on BTS’s Image and Public Perception

  • Legal Response: Big Hit Music released two press statements so far, clarifying that they had collected evidence and would pursue legal action.
  • Public Sentiment: Despite the international community’s continued support for BTS, the local narrative has somewhat shifted, leading to a drop in public opinion. The controversy surrounding music hoarding resurfaced following remarks by Min Hee-jin; allegations dating back seven years ago were reignited, with references to ‘hoarding music’. An official from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism explained, “A complaint has been filed, but no related investigation has been conducted,” and “We plan to confirm the facts.”

Army’s Reaction and Support

BTS’s devoted fanbase, ARMY, rallied around the group with unwavering support. They have a history of standing firm against baseless attacks, as demonstrated by the “White Paper Project” launch during a previous controversy to debunk false rumors. Despite recent rumors and negativity, ARMY continues to show immense support for BTS, as evidenced by their Spotify listening stats—BTS remains the most listened-to group in Spotify history. Furthermore, their merchandise consistently sells out, and their music is leading global charts even while the members are inactive due to military service, refuting claims that their success is not organic. This undeniable and consistent support proves BTS’s global impact and the authenticity of the BTS relationship with ARMY. It would be hard to survive the ever-changing entertainment industry and retain the loyalty of informed global citizens for over a decade for artists if they had to use malicious methods to succeed.

BTS and Military Service and Absence

The timing of these rumors couldn’t be worse, as all seven BTS members are currently enlisted in the South Korean military. Jin, the eldest member, was the first to enlist and will finish his service in June 2023, while other members will also finish their service duration by June 2025.

BTS Became Victims in a Smear Campaign Despite Organic Success

BTS has consistently proven their dedication, talent, and positive influence throughout their career. However, the legal battle between Hybe and Min Hee-jin has unfairly implicated BTS simply for being Hybe’s main money maker, making them collateral damage in a conflict beyond their control.

Despite being embroiled in a media charade, BTS remains a beacon of inspiration to millions worldwide. From humble beginnings to international stardom, baseless rumors or corporate strife cannot overshadow their organic success story. As BTS continues to serve their mandatory military service, ARMY stands firmly by their side, advocating for their protection and eagerly awaiting their return.

Only time will tell how the legal dispute unfolds in this corporate battle. However, one thing remains clear: BTS’s legacy is unshakable, and its contribution to music, culture, and society will continue to shine brightly.

This article is written by:
Editorial Team at Knowledge Netizen | Website

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