The seven members of K-pop group BTS will each perform their mandatory military service in their native South Korea for nearly two years. The decision came after a debate over whether artists should be given a service exemption.
Despite the support given to the group to receive special consideration for their contribution to the country’s economy, each member will serve nearly two years and are expected to reform in 2025, according to their management Big Hit Music. In a statement, Big Hit said the band members are “moving forward with plans to complete their military service,” and added, “As each individual embarks on solo endeavors, now is the perfect time and the BTS members are honored to serve.”
Jin, the oldest member of the group, will be the first to join the military after his 30th birthday in December, following the release of a solo project, while the other members, born between 1993 and 1997, will follow with their service. . No other information about each individual member’s service schedule is available.
“Group member Jin will start the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is complete at the end of October,” the statement from Big Hit Music continued. “Other members of the group plan to perform their military service according to their own individual plans.”
On October 15, the group performed in front of 55,000 fans at Asiad’s main stadium in the southeastern port city of Busan to support the city’s bid for the 2030 World Expo. The show marked the last BTS concert as a group until they finish serving in the military.
Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men under the age of 30 must serve in the military between 18 and 21 months to maintain the country’s ability to defend against a possible attack from North Korea. Although the Korean War ended on July 27, 1953, the two countries remain divided and technically still at war.
Although some parliamentarians have backed an exemption for BTS members, there were concerns that such a move could lead to accusations of favoritism for the group over other young men who are required to serve.
Refusing to serve in the military is considered a crime in South Korea and can lead to imprisonment and social stigma. Former k-pop singer and actor Steve Yoo was deported from the country after he avoided drafting into the military by becoming a naturalized US citizen in 2002.
In the past, some prominent South Koreans have received exemptions or been allowed to perform alternative public service, including Tottenham footballer Son Heung-min, a gold medalist at the 2018 Asian Games, and Seong-jin Cho, the first Korean pianist to win. International Chopin Piano Competition.
BTS has sold over 30 million records and earned two Grammy nominations since their debut in 2013.
Photo: Cliff Lipson/CBS