Today, most people know Bang Si Hyuk has the founder of Big Hit Entertainment, the billion-dollar K-Pop agency that birthed the billion-dollar boy group BTS. He’s a visionary, a brilliant businessman, and much more. Here are 9 things you might not know about him.

1. He used references from his own life in the BTS Universe

According to Lumpens, the director of many of BTS music videos, the BU is partly inspired by Bang Si Hyuk’s own life. The “Spring Day” MV references Ursula K. Le Guin‘s The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas, a book Bang Si Hyuk read and chose to include in BTS’s work.

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| Ursula K. Le Guin/Kobo.com 

2. Music was not his dream

Music has made Bang Si Hyuk a billionaire, but he didn’t know he would end up creating. At the 2019 graduation ceremony for Seoul National University, he said, “There was no critical moment at which I decided to do music. I kept floating on, and found myself doing it ]…] I’m not an ambitious man painting big pictures and grand dreams.”

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3. He helped build the foundation of JYP Entertainment

Bang Si Hyuk and JYP Entertainment founder Park Jin Young have been friends for decades, and Bang Si Hyuk played a pivotal role behind the scenes. JYP Entertainment’s first singer, Jinju, debuted in 1997 during the birth of contemporary K-Pop.

Jinju and Bang Si Hyuk worked together on her first album, and he wrote eight of its ten songs.

JYP didn’t even have a company sign at the time. I worked in Si-hyuk’s studio. It was just a rectangular office in an alleyway. [. . .] Music production wasn’t like today, where each part of a [pop] song is written by different specialists. [. . ] Back then, Si-hyuk had to do everything. He composed, arranged, recorded and even acted as the sound supervisor.

— Jinju

4. He was ahead of the AI trend

When you think “K-Pop” and “AI” in 2020, aespa or the virtual group K/DA might come to mind.

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| SM Entertainment

Bang Si Hyuk’s first girl group GLAM was one of the first K-Pop groups to combine this kind of music and virtual technology on stage. GLAM performed with SeeU, a Korean VOCALOID, back in 2012.

5. He was born into a brilliant family

Bang Si Hyuk’s parents are as extraordinary and learned as he is. His mother, Choi Myeong Ja, was an intellectual trailblazer; she received an English Literature at Seoul National University at a time when women rarely did. Bang Geuk Yoon, Bang Si Hyuk’s father, was the chairman of the  Korea Workers’ Compensation & Welfare Service, a government organization for labor rights.

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6. His parents wanted him to be a lawyer

Bang Si Hyuk followed in his parents’ footsteps by attending SNU, but not in the way they expected. They wanted him to become a lawyer, but he chose to major in aesthetics.

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7. He cries easily

Back in 2011, Bang Si Hyuk revealed that he’s a sucker for corny movies. “I’d bawl my eyes out, this forty-something man in only his underwear,” he said. “I felt more ashamed when I was eating jajangmyeon at the same time.” 

8. He is as strict with his artists as he is with himself

Bang Si Hyuk is known for being strict but fair, giving his artists creative freedom while expecting top results in return.

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| @bts_bighit/Twitter

I don’t normally raise my voice and speak harshly. But when I’m working with artists at the company, I speak more strongly than on television. I’ve shouted angrily, ‘And you call yourself a singer?’ Every singer I’ve worked with must’ve heard this.

— Bang Si Hyuk

That said, he puts the same expectations on himself. When he first started out in music, he was surrounded by very talented people, and he worked hard to improve his skills to reach their level. In fact, he practiced learning the piano so much that his thighs used to break out in a heat rash.

When I started, I didn’t have much talent in music. Of course, I had enough talent to do something. But I was surrounded by the best, like Park Jinyoung, Shin Seung Hun [. . . ] I cried a lot back then. I had to work really, really hard.

— Bang Si Hyuk

9. Even as a kid, he was a genius

According to his father, Bang Si Hyuk has been a book enthusiast all his life. As a kid, he read material that was years above his reading level.

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 He read books all day as a child. He had an incredible ability to focus. He read Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans before he entered elementary school.

— Bang Si Hyuk