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Bang Si-hyuk: from ‘hitman’ to ‘motivator’

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Updated : March 03 2017

Boy band BTS’ success, including the popularity of its latest track “Not Today,” is easily deemed "a miracle for a group on such a small entertainment agency."

At least, label boss Bang Si-hyuk, once known by the stage name “Hitman Bang” for his feats in the K-pop industry, admitted to thinking so in an interview late last year.

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(Big Hit Entertainment)
“It is true, fact-wise,” he said, referring to the success of the group signed to Big Hit Entertainment, which he heads as a chief producer.

But he then had second thoughts about the word “miracle,” saying it might limit BTS’ potential to grow further.

“The word ‘miracle’ sounds euphemistic, but it also poses a restraint.” the 44-year-old said. “BTS should grow further, regardless of where it belongs.”

The hit-making composer was once recognized as outspoken critic on survival TV shows. Now, he is one of a few entertainment agency chiefs in K-pop who stresses trainee’s self-motivation. BTS is proof that self-motivation bears fruit, he claims.

To Bang, all seven BTS members deserve the success they have been enjoying.

“All BTS members had self-motivation from their early teenage years,” Bang said in a 2013 interview. “Before joining us, they all struggled despite exceptional enthusiasm in their respective areas of music and dance.”

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(Big Hit Entertainment)
Bang also said his belief in young trainees’ self-motivation applied to all Big Hit Entertainment trainees.

“All I care about is how trainees have done with their assignments,” he said. “I don’t want to treat trainees like kid. People grow sensible enough at the age of 10.”

Big Hit Entertainment, named after his nickname, embraces “trainees’ independence” in its policy, as opposed to the rigid schedules that most K-pop entertainment firms are notorious for.

However, the trainees under Bang appear to pay for the independence. The cost could come in the form of biting criticism, as seen in MBC’s “Star Audition: The Great Birth” season 1 in 2011. Bang’s blunt remarks about contestants there earned him another nickname, “bitter critic.” He has been considered Korea’s answer to UK music producer Simon Cowell, who is famous as the painfully honest judge of survival shows such as “American Idol,” “Britain’s Got Talent” and “The X Factor.”

Before these TV appearances, Bang gained prominence as a composer under JYP Entertainment in 1997. After graduating with the second highest GPA from Seoul National University’s department of aesthetics, he teamed up with producer Park Jin-young, head of JYP Entertainment, to compose first-generation K-pop hits by g.o.d and Rain, among others.

He went independent by founding Big Hit Entertainment in 2005.

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(Big Hit Entertainment)
Now, as a chief producer of the “small entertainment agency,” Bang builds on the principle that those who care survive and prosper without limit.

“We cannot teach them how to love music,” he said in the 2013 interview. “Each trainee should bear the responsibility for what they do.”

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)

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