After ‘successful’ 20 years, YG Entertainment to keep pursuing refined music: CEO

January 20, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) — Yang Hyun-suk, CEO and chief producer of the YG Entertainment that manages Psy and BIGBANG, doesn’t have any hobbies. He doesn’t even play golf which is considered an essential activity for entrepreneurs in South Korea.

“I’m busy doing things I love. It’s difficult for me to learn other things and I have no interest in them,” the 47-year-old said during an interview with Yonhap News Agency at his office in Seoul on Tuesday.

“It’s important to do things I love, but the more important thing is that I don’t like to do things which I dislike,” he said smiling, adding that his love for African-American music has shaped him since his early years.

He conceded that his happiest moments were when he performed “Come Back Home” as a rapper of the legendary ’90s pop rock-hip-hop trio Seo Taiji and Boys in 1995.

Unlike the group’s other hit songs which were mostly rock, “Come Back Home” is a slow hip-hop song. It was the best fit for Yang who said he liked to dance freely rather than sticking to technical skills.

This photo provided by YG Entertainment shows Yang Hyun-suk, CEO and chief producer of the entertainment agency.

This photo provided by YG Entertainment shows Yang Hyun-suk, CEO and chief producer of the entertainment agency.

He established the entertainment firm, YG Entertainment, in 1998, two years after the dissolution of the first-generation boy group.

The company has developed into a label specializing in African-American music based on hip-hop while managing such K-pop idol groups as Jinusean, 1TYM, BIGBANG and 2NE1. It was floated on the secondary Korean stock market, KOSDAQ, in 2011 and has since grown into a company with 668 employees in 14 units. Aside from singers, YG now manages top-tier actors such as Cha Seung-won, Gang Dong-won and Lee Jong-suk.

“YG has just completed the first book, a thick book with interesting and rich content,” Yang said, speaking metaphorically of the agency’s 20-year history. “Now is the beginning of the second book.”

Yang said Internet has incredibly expanded the company’s reach in the world with rapper Psy’s “Gangnam Style” becoming a YouTube sensation and BIGBANG’s music topping charts in 20 countries.

“I think the only way to survive in this age is to produce refined music, rather than pursuing only profits,” he said, emphasizing that YG’s pursuit of well-polished music makes it different from other labels. “That’s the only thing that I don’t want to lose.”

This image provided by YG Entertainment shows BIGBANG, a boy band managed by the agency.

This image provided by YG Entertainment shows BIGBANG, a boy band managed by the agency.

But can the company’s heyday last without its two major idol groups — BIGBANG and 2NE1? The five-member boy band is expected to pause their group activities for a while as three of its members begin mandatory military duty starting this year, while 2NE1 was disbanded last November.

In South Korea, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 35 must complete two years of service as the country is still technically at war with North Korea.

Yang felt positive about the future, citing the current popularity each BIGBANG member enjoys as a solo artist.

“BIGBANG has engaged in individual activities from the early stage, so each member is strong,” he said, adding the remaining four members will embark on solo activities after rapper T.O.P goes to the Army next month.

“G-Dragon has a great passion for making his own solo album so he also proposed Seungri to complete a solo album together by March. Daesung will hold a concert tour of Japanese cities while Taeyang will release a solo album, too.”

About the disbanded girl group, Yang said member Park Bom’s health issue was the main reason behind his decision to end it.

“I told her that 2NE1 is important but that I want her to become healthy again. I think the day might come when the group is reunited like S.E.S (if she gets better).”

Asked about this year’s plan, Yang answered that his company will focus on supporting its other boy bands, iKON and WINNER.

“Since we helped the new girl group BLACKPINK debut successfully last year, we’ll put all our energy into the two boy groups… You’ll be able to hear the groups’ new songs by March.”

This photo provided by YG Entertainment shows rookie boy band iKON.

This photo provided by YG Entertainment shows rookie boy band iKON.

In addition, YG plans to expand its business into TV program production from its current activities as music label, star management, and in areas like fashion, cosmetics and food.

As the importance of content grew in the entertainment industry, many large domestic entertainment agencies such as S.M. and FNC have already jumped into the TV content-making business. It is no longer news that famed producers of major TV networks have signed up with big entertainment agencies.

“The company will begin making broadcast content beyond the management of singers and actors,” Yang said. “We can make broadcasting content well if we have fresh and intriguing ideas. Television viewers choose dramas based on who wrote it but don’t care which TV channels their dramas are shown. People follow interesting content. Moreover, there will be synergy effect between YG artists and TV programs,” he said.





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