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Leading entertainment companies operating profit South Korea 2018

In 2018. That year, the operating profit of BigHit Entertainment amounted to around 78.3 billion South Korean won, followed by SM with about 52.2 billion South Korean won. Entertainment agencies enter into contracts with the artists they manage, supporting them in their careers. Oftentimes, they actively seek out potential future artists and nurture their growth. The girl group named Twice, from JYP Entertainment, is an example of a group which was formed through the competition TV show Sixteen.

Top K-pop entertainment agencies

The so-called “Big 3” K-pop entertainment agencies are: SM Entertainment, YG Entertainment, and JYP Entertainment. SM Entertainment has traditionally been the largest and most profitable, racing ahead of the other two in annual sales and employee numbers. SM also played a leading role in the rise of the global K-pop phenomenon and “Hallyu”, managing prominent K-pop performers such as Girls’ Generation, Exo, and Red Velvet. YG’s primary K-pop group is Big Bang, it also manages Winner, iKon, Blackpink, as well as others. While JYP Entertainment manages 2PM, JJ Project, Twice, and many more. BigHit Entertainment is one of the smaller agencies. BigHit, an agency which was on the brink of bankruptcy a decade ago, is now making the most profits among the Big 4 entertainment companies, due to its management of BTS.

YG Entertainment’s ongoing woes

YG Entertainment’s low profit is not only possibly due to the growth of other agencies. YG suffered damage to its reputation, caused by the Burning Sun scandal in February 2019. This began with allegations of the assault of a guest at the Burning Sun club, furthered by a simple police investigation into the allegations. However, the investigation quickly exposed drug use, as well as police corruption in relations to the club. Seungri of YG’s Big Bang was an executive director of Burning Sun. The police investigation quickly uncovered the active involvement of other K-pop performers. YG failed to respond adequately to its involvement in drug scandals, which tarnished its reputation further. However, when the impact of the Burning Sun scandal seemed to dissipate, it was then revealed that YG CEO Yang Hyun-suk, tried to persuade an informant (a former YG trainee) to change her testimony. A testimony which implicated B.I (a member of YG’s K-pop group iKon) in the use of illegal drugs. Yang recently resigned from all positions of YG.

Operating profit of leading K-pop entertainment companies in 2018

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Release date

March 2019


South Korea

Survey time period


Supplementary notes

Note: 1,000 South Korean won equal 0.89 U.S. dollars and 0.78 euros (as of March 2019).
Figures have been rounded.

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