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Friday, April 19, 2024

From BTS to aespa, K-pop idol romances are tanking stock prices

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aespa's Karina, left, and actor Lee Jae-wook [YONHAP]
aespa’s Karina, left, and actor Lee Jae-wook [YONHAP]

From leaked photos of Jennie and V to announcement of the romance between aespa’s Karina and actor Lee Jae-wook, the relationship status of K-pop celebrities has proven a key factor in investors’ sentiment toward the agencies that represent them.

Karina, the leader of SM Entertainment’s dominant fourth-generation girl group, was revealed to be dating the “Impossible Heir” actor on Tuesday.

SM Entertainment’s shares opened at 80,700 won ($60) that morning, but took a downturn around 10:20 a.m. when Dispatch first reported that the two were in a relationship.

The company’s shares stooped as low as 76,700 won around 1:30 p.m. — a decrease of 4.96 percent from the previous trading day — after the two actors’ agencies confirmed the romance.

SM Entertainment’s stocks ultimately closed at 77,900 won, down 3.47 percent from the previous day’s close. The firm’s market cap fell to 1.86 trillion won, meaning that some 66.7 billion won had evaporated over the course of the day.

The stocks rebounded slightly on Wednesday, rising 2.05 percent to close at 79,500 won.

aespa is projected to account for 23 percent of SM Entertainment’s total concert revenue, second behind NCT’s 45 percent, according to a report from Mirae Asset Securities. The girl group’s figure surpasses those of many well-known SM artists such as SHINee, TVXQ, Taeyeon and Red Velvet.

In terms of streaming-related revenue, aespa is expected to take up 14 percent of the total revenue, sitting in third place behind NCT’s 26 percent and Super Junior’s 22 percent. aespa is followed by Exo, Red Velvet, Girls’ Generation and SHINee.

aespa’s crucial position in SM’s portfolio underscores the reason why top celebrities, especially active K-pop artists with devoted fandoms, often choose to keep their dating life confidential.

Mention of relationship status has traditionally been considered taboo in the conventional K-pop scene. Agencies tend to refrain from commenting on speculation regarding their artists’ romances, often claiming that rumored couples are “just friends.” Companies that have confirmed such reports in the past have done so reluctantly after the leak of paparazzi shots.

Karina is one of few idols who has immediately revealed details of her dating life.

But even K-pop couples who stay quiet about their status can impact their agencies’ shares. Blackpink’s Jennie and BTS’s V, sent their agencies spiraling with just a photo.

Rumors began swirling about the couple after a photo of man and woman inside a car was uploaded to social media on May 22, 2022. Though its quality wasn’t top-notch, fans insisted that the figures, both in sunglasses, strongly resembled Jennie and V.

The day after the photo’s release, shares of YG Entertainment, which represents Blackpink, slipped 1.97 percent to 54,600 won. They tumbled a further 1.28 percent the day after.

Shares of HYBE, which represents BTS, were unchanged on May 23, but sunk 2.49 percent on May 24.

Neither agency commented on the photos, but their shares declined once again after another array of photos speculated to depict the two singers were posted in August of 2022. The photos were alleged to have been leaked from Jennie’s private account.

YG Entertainment’s shares fell 5.25 percent to 56,000 won on Aug. 23, the day the photos were first disclosed, while those of HYBE decreased 6.25 percent to 172,500 won.

The drop in price is not always so steep, depending on the popularity and influence of the artists in question. The confirmation of Twice’s Momo and Super Junior’s Kim Hee-cheol, for example, did not send quite as big of a shock wave through the singers’ respective agencies.

The couple was outed by another exclusive paparazzi report from Dispatch on Jan. 2, 2020. Shares of JYP Entertainment and SM Entertainment — which represent Twice and Super Junior, respectively — dipped quite modestly after both sides confirmed the news. SM slid 1.3 percent while JYP fell just 0.21 percent.

BY LEE JAE-LIM [lee.jaelim@joongang.co.kr]