[THE INVESTOR] Korean actor Jung Hae-in, who stars in the popular Korean drama “Something in the Rain,” is rapidly gaining more fans and cash.
Bolstered by his star power, shares of his talent agency FNC Entertainment closed at 13,400 won (US$12.50) on April 11, up 3.08 percent from the previous day. Just last week, the shares hovered around 8,000 won.
Actor Jung Hae-in in JTBC drama "Something in the Rain."
Jung comes as a blessing for the company, which previously had a gloomy annual outlook after selling a controlling stake in its drama production subsidiary FNC Add Culture to SM Entertainment earlier this year. The unexpected departure of Jung Yong-hwa, leader and main vocalist of cash cow CNBLUE was another blow -- he enrolled in the military after being enmeshed in an admissions scandal.
Analysts say Jung could create tailwinds for the 12-year-old agency, which houses other stars like K-pop groups AOA and FT Island and comedian Yoo Jae-suk.
“If Jung can become the next Asian heartthrob, he could add 15 billion won to 25 billion won in yearly profits for FNC Entertainment,” said Lee Ji-hoon, analyst at Hana Financial Investment. “And assuming that the Korea-China relations improve, Jung could clinch at least 20 advertisements and broadcasting projects in China as well.”
“Something in the Rain,” which co-stars rom-com queen Son Ye-jin, has been making waves in China through unofficial channels; China has banned Korean cultural contents in retaliation against the deployment of a US-missile defense system.
Son ye-jin (left) and Jung Hae-in
Following the drama’s premiere on March 30, Jung topped major charts in China, including Weibo and Baidu to follow in the footsteps of predecessors like Kim Soo-hyun, the star of “My Love from the Star” and Song Joong-ki of the “Descendants of the Sun.” FNC is hoping to create more contents for the Chinese market in a joint effort with its second largest shareholder Suning Universal Media, which holds a 22 percent stake in the firm.
Market watchers say FNC could expand like its bigger rival KeyEast, the management agency that shot to fame because of Kim Soo-hyun’s career. In 2014, when “My Love from the Stars” went on air, KeyEast’s sales jumped 77.8 percent on-year to 42.9 billion won, propelled by unprecedented sales in China with 18.5 billion won.
Next Entertainment World, which produced “Descendants of the Sun,” saw its revenue jump 52.23 percent to 125.7 billion won in 2016. The drama’s lead Song Joong-ki earned more than 40 billion won that year, shooting more than 30 commercials both in Korea and China.
By Ahn Sung-mi (firstname.lastname@example.org)