Hybe, the agency representing BTS, has recently demanded the removal of a BTS sculpture installed by a local government, citing intellectual property rights infringement.
This move is poised to affect BTS-related sculptures in Busan, considered a sacred place for BTS fans.
The agency’s stance is expected to make it challenging for new BTS sculptures to be erected in Busan in the future, potentially dealing a significant blow to the local tourism industry.
In June 2022, a BTS photo zone installed on Oryukdo Island by Nam-gu, Busan, was taken down two months later following Hybe’s request. Similarly, a mural of BTS members in Saha-gu, Busan, also faced removal. Hybe actively opposes the unauthorized use of BTS-related content in public projects.
Currently, Busan features BTS-related sculptures, including a mural at Gamcheon Culture Village and a photo zone at Busan Citizens Park.
However, Hybe has asserted its stance against the use of BTS members’ portraits and names in projects sponsored by local governments, government ministries, and affiliated organizations. The agency cites the risk of violating the Unfair Competition Prevention Act and potentially negatively impacting the entertainers’ image.
As a result, the future creation of tourism resources involving BTS may require Hybe’s explicit permission.
While recognizing the agency’s concerns about unauthorized use, some local government officials express hope for flexibility, particularly for projects aimed at public use rather than commercial gain.
They acknowledge the positive impact of BTS sculptures in attracting foreign tourists and suggest finding a balance between respecting intellectual property rights and supporting public initiatives.
Two of the band’s members, Jimin and Jungkook, are both from Busan and places that they have visited or murals with their likeness have become popular tourist spots for BTS fans.