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Hybe’s Bang Si-hyuk receives SNU’s first honorary degree as pop-culture figure

Hybe founder and Chairman Bang Si-hyuk gives a speech after receiving the honorary doctorate from Seoul National University during the awarding ceremony held at the campus in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Hybe founder and Chairman Bang Si-hyuk gives a speech after receiving the honorary doctorate from Seoul National University during the awarding ceremony held at the campus in Seoul on Thursday. (Yonhap)


South Korean entertainment company Hybe’s founder and Chairman Bang Si-hyuk received an honorary doctorate in business from Seoul National University on Thursday.

Bang, also referred to as the father of K-pop sensation BTS, received the honorary degree at the awarding ceremony which was held on Thursday morning at the SNU campus in Gwanak-gu, Seoul. Through a statement, the firm said Bang was given the degree in recognition of his contribution to the development and innovation of the nation’s cultural and entertainment industry.

In his speech of recommendation for Bang, professor Choi Hae-cheon of the school’s engineering department said, “Chairman Bang has played a significant role in turning K-pop into a global pop music culture.” He added, “We highly praise his contribution to the improvement of the nation’s popular culture and the global music, as well as in the creation of a borderless music industry system.”

In return, the Hybe founder said that as someone who received no formal education in business, he had to experience failures through which he gained knowledge and learned lessons. Through this, he eventually learned that the essence of running a company is a long-term vision through which the company can survive and grow.

On enduring the global pandemic which threatened the existence of many companies worldwide, Bang said, “I focused on reinforcing the firm’s fundamentals to extend its power to continue heading in the direction we had in plan ahead of the COVID-19 outbreak.”

He added that he had focused on bolstering the company’s organizational, business and financial competitiveness to uphold the firm’s three key values of survival, growth and vision even amid the pandemic, thereby achieving limitless expansion.


Seoul National University President Oh Se-jung (left), and Hybe Chairman Bang Si-hyuk pose for picture during the awarding ceremony of Bang’s honorary doctorate degree from the university that took place in SNU Seoul campus on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Seoul National University President Oh Se-jung (left), and Hybe Chairman Bang Si-hyuk pose for picture during the awarding ceremony of Bang’s honorary doctorate degree from the university that took place in SNU Seoul campus on Thursday. (Yonhap)

SNU has given the honorary degree to people who have made a special contribution to the academic development or improvement of the cultural heritage of mankind. Bang is the first figure from the entertainment industry to receive an honorary doctorate from SNU, one of the nation’s most prestigious universities. Among those who have received the honorary degree are South Africa’s first Black President Nelson Mandela, the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee and the former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The entrepreneur is an alumni of the university, graduating with a bachelor in aesthetics in 1997. Starting his music career as a composer and producer, in 2001 he co-founded the K-pop label JYP Entertainment with singer-producer Park Jin-young, playing a key role in turning the company into a K-pop powerhouse.

In 2005, he left JYP to establish his own label Big Hit Entertainment, under which the global phenomenon boy band BTS debuted in June 2013. With BTS on its back, Big Hit aggressively expanded its reach beyond the domestic music scene. It acquired smaller local K-pop management labels in 2020 and the major US record label Ithaca Holdings in 2021. It also changed its name to Hybe in March 2021 and turned into a multi-label system encompassing various fields of business, from entertainment to lifestyle. In June of that year, Bang also stepped down from the CEO position to focus on his role as a composer and producer.

In 2018, Bang was named among the annual list of Billboard’s “73 International Power Players” in the Recording category, going on to be named on the list for three years straight. He was also named on the “Variety 500,” an expansive list of leading figures in the international media industry, for the second consecutive year in December 2021. In March, Hybe was named among business magazine Fast Company’s “The World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies 2022.” It was also included in Time magazine’s “100 Most Influential Companies” two years in a row, for 2021 and 2022.


By Choi Ji-won (jwc@heraldcorp.com)
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