7 Things About Bang Si-Hyuk Aka "Hitman Bang" And "Bang PD"
The man who gave us BTS is now one of the richest individuals in South Korea, and is among the biggest players in the global entertainment scene
You know BTS, but do you know the man behind the biggest band in the world right now? Here are seven quick facts about the man whose name is now synonymous with worldwide success.
1. His nickname “Hitman Bang” is there for good reason.
Before founding Big Hit Entertainment, Bang Si Hyuk was already a prolific songwriter and music producer with a career that now spans over two decades. In 1997, he co-composed "가지않는길," a track sung by Kim Gun Mo. He has also done music or written lyrics for hits such as 2AM’s “L.O.V.E,” Jo Sungmo’s “I Will Smile” co-written with Kwon Tae Eun, which was featured on the OST of the 2010 classic K-drama Coffee Prince, and even had a hand in producing tracks for Wonder Girls’ album The Wonder Years. To this day, his name is a mainstay in the production and writing credits of BTS and TXT tracks and albums.
2. Lawyer Si Hyuk?
Stories differ but it was either his parents or his grandfather who wanted him to become a lawyer. The call of the creative arts was stronger. According to a 2017 blog post, his mother supported his decision to turn away from law school.
A look into his mother and father gives us a glimpse at how he grew into a trailblazer in his chosen field. His mother is an intellectual with a degree in English literature from Seoul National University, coincidentally also where Bang Si Hyuk would later graduate from. His father was the chairman of the Korean Workers’ Compensation and Welfare Service.
His mother’s literature degree must have influenced the young Si Hyuk. He is an avid reader who read well above his age as a child. His father has been quoted as admitting that his son had finished some of Plutarch’s works before entering elementary school!
Bang also sometimes takes inspiration from these novels and infuses them into his work at Big Hit. Someone from Lumpens, the creative group that directs and shoots BTS music videos, once said that the references in “Spring Day” from the book “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin came from Bang, who read the story and decided to give it a nod in the music video.
3. He has a deep love for music in all its forms.
It is this passion for music that anchors many of his philosophies in his company. In a 2018 interview with Korean website The Dissolve, Bang discussed the importance of a love for music within his company staff. And the same held true for the artists in their trainee program. Two quotes from that interview perfectly sum up his thoughts on this:
“Our New Artist Development Team has the determination to create artists who love music and the stage. If you don’t like music, you’re eliminated, and if you can’t show your passion for music, you’re eliminated even if you’re good at everything else.
“I don’t want to work with someone whose goal is to become an entertainer and is simply using music to achieve that end. So, it’s a matter of priority. It’s a completely different story if you like music and do it and become a celebrity through that.”
He also encourages his talents to have a personal involvement in their music, which is evident when one looks through BTS’ discography, where all seven of the members have writing and production credits attributed to them.
Recently, he brought on BTS’ RM to help with the lyrics of TXT’s song “0X1=Lovesong.” The crossover credit trended on Twitter as both fandoms (ARMY and MOA) lost their collective cool over the news.
4. He gives his artists more freedom… with expectations.
In an industry where major labels are known to be heavy disciplinarians with rules such as “no phone,” “no dating,” and strict curfews, Bang Si Hyuk’s decision to give his artists more freedom caused more than a little ripple when the information first came to light. He has since brought it up in several interviews through the years. Among his statements is that he doesn’t feel the need to treat them as children, believes being less strict produces better results, and a happy artist is a prolific one. But he is just as quick to clarify that he expects growth and development as a direct result. Not improving in your craft and skill? Expect a meeting where your fate and contract will be discussed at length.
5. He is more than just the boss.
Bang PD has been seen on more than one occasion out in public with individual members of BTS. At cafés with RM, walking on the streets with j-hope, etc. On WeVerse, Jin posted a series of photos of himself and the Big Boss sharing a meal that Bang himself cooked. In a later interview with WeVerse Magazine, Jin shed some light on how this dinner came to be.
He candidly shared, “People around the office might feel he is unapproachable, but I don’t find him to be like that. (laughs) So I asked him in passing to have a drink and he suddenly said, ‘Okay, when are you free?’ Most of the time, though, I only meet like that on a spur of the moment, so I said, ‘Uh, I’m busy right now. This day’s all booked up, too, and so’s this day.’ (laughs). ‘Then just give me a rough time and I’ll make time when you’re done.’ We talked back and forth like that and he came to see me the next day for dinner when I was all finished with work. And he said he’d cook for me and buy wine, too. Anyway, it was a nice meal.”
Most recently, during the Big Boss’ birthday (August 9), Jin rang him while in the middle of the live broadcast to greet him, jokingly saying maybe he should come over for drinks. The celebrant then admitted that he was already in bed, owing to an early schedule the following day.
6. He stepped down as CEO of HYBE to focus on music.
This caused quite a stir when it was announced earlier this year. HYBE was quick to point out that while the man known for his exacting standards at work would relinquish the reins, he would still in fact be in control of the company. The move was mainly a decision that would allow him to be more involved and focused on music production, which he considers his area of expertise. But ultimately, he retains his seat on the Board of Directors as Chairman. The new CEO of HYBE is Park Ji-won, who joined the corporate juggernaut in May 2020.
7. His net worth is over $3B.
He is ranked 16th in Forbes’ list of Top 50 richest individuals in South Korea with a net worth of $2.7 billion. He became a billionaire when Big Hit Entertainment (now HYBE) went public in the fourth quarter of 2020. Not too shabby for a man who almost went bankrupt when he founded Big Hit back in 2005!
The members of BTS are quick to say that he is one of the hardest working men in the business. Several features about him have highlighted his sharp mind, innovative strategies, and clever business acumen. Bang Si Hyuk himself also attributes luck to his triumphs. The combination of them all have resulted in a success story that continues to be written with no foreseeable end in sight.
Words by K.G.G.
Photos from Big Hit Entertainment