Hybe, the rapidly-growing South Korean company best known as the home of hitmakers BTS, will be launching new pop acts and investing in NFTs, the company announced on November 4.
During a corporate briefing on YouTube, Hybe’s management, as well as executives from subsidiaries and partners in the entertainment tech fields, laid out its plans for the rest of 2021 and early 2022.
The highest profile announcement was Hybe’s investment in Dunamu, the largest South Korean cryptocurrency operator, which runs the popular cryptocurrency exchange Upbit. The companies will launch a joint venture to create non-fungible tokens (NFTs) featuring artists and content from Hybe, including BTS-related releases.
The company also announced that it was preparing a girl group in the US market as a “global girl group” in partnership with Universal Music’s Geffen Records, as well as a boy band in Japan.
Hybe launched an audition for members of the female team, and is currently working on the Japanese act, which will feature four individuals previously introduced through the competition show I-Land, which produced boy band Enhypen last year.
There will also be a series of webtoons, or digital comic series, inspired by boy bands BTS, Tomorrow X Together (TXT) and Enhypen, as well as one focusing on females.
Each of the original webtoons will feature a different fantastical storyline and will be a collaboration with different Hybe K-pop artists.
The BTS-starring 7Fates: Chakho will be an urban fantasy story blending futuristic settings with traditional Korean elements, and will launch on January 14, 2022.
Enhypen will feature in a series of urban fantasy teen romance stories known as Dark Moon, with the first edition, Dark Moon: the Blood Altar, launching on January 15. The next day, TXT’s The Star Seekers will be unveiled, which features a pop band living in a magical world.
Many elements of the stories have been featured in works by the artists in the past, such as traditional themes appearing in BTS music videos, Enhypen’s tendency to explore vampire concepts, and TXT’s mystical music videos. A fourth story will be the female-focused coming-of-age fantasy Crimson Heart.
They will be made available through the popular digital comic platform Webtoon, and feature on publishing platform Wattpad, known for fan fiction.
Hybe also announced its plans to integrate its fan-to-artist communication app Weverse with Naver’s live-streaming V Live app, and a new BTS game that is currently in the works.
The new version of Weverse and the game, which the members of BTS have worked on, are set to launch next year.
The news was widely praised by fans of Hybe’s acts across social media, but the launch of the NFT venture raised some concern, with numerous comments on the live-stream of the event declaring “No NFT”, as the conversation spread across social media, and led to discussions about whether NFT or physical merchandise is worse for the environment.
NFTs, which work through blockchain technology, are seen by many as ecologically-unfriendly, and seem in conflict with BTS’ recent speech at the United Nations pushing for action against climate change.
In the past, fans of other K-pop acts who have pursued NFTs have also raised concerns, even as the creation and sale of NFTs is increasing across all artistic industries.