K-Pop sensation BTS might rival the Beatles in chart success, but is their contribution to South Korea’s GDP really as substantial as that of major companies? A recent article by U.S. magazine Hollywood Reporter puts the boy group’s annual revenue at $4.65 billion and claims this puts the music group in the “same league as Samsung and Hyundai.”
But is this claim true? An analysis of 2018 company revenues shows that even though BTS makes billions – through album and ticket sales, but also by selling merchandise and attracting visitors to South Korea – they do not come close to corporate money makers.
In 2018, Samsung’s revenue was almost $212 billion, or 13 percent of South Korean GDP. The second largest contributor to the country’s economy, Hyundai, still managed a contribution of 5 percent, not unusual for major high-tech companies. The South Korean company most comparable to BTS’s contribution was Korean Air, which earned revenues of $11.65 billion – 0.7 percent of GDP - in 2018. In the end, BTS’s $4.65 billion is only a minor contribution to South Korean GDP at 0.3 percent.