According to South Korean law, every eligible male aged 18 to 28 must serve a minimum of 18 months in the military, and have until age 28 to do so.
This presents something of a conundrum for BTS, which could see one of the world’s biggest K-pop groups sidelined while its members fulfill their duty.
However, efforts are underway to gain an exemption, and Lee Jin Hyung — CEO of HYBE, the entertainment firm that manages BTS — addressed the issue in a statement, via Soompi.
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“It’s true that we are wary of speaking about this [matter], because we know how important the issue of military service is in Korea… we hope that a decision will be reached on the amendment to the Military Service Act as soon as possible,” he said.
The members of BTS have been able to avoid their mandatory military service temporarily due to an exemption passed in 2020, nicknamed the “BTS military service amendment,” which allows artists deemed to have made significant contributions to Korean culture to postpone their mandatory service until they turn 30, based upon the recommendation of the nation’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
While that has been effective so far, the current law would require the group’s oldest member, Jin, to enlist in the military before the end of this year.
“The BTS members have currently left the matter of their military service in the hands of the company. BTS has already conveyed the message multiple times that they will accept the call of duty when the nation calls them, and they have not changed that opinion,” Hyung said.
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“However, the policy on military service has changed a little, and as the members are experiencing changes to the Military Service Act that they did not expect, they are currently monitoring the situation while discussing the matter with the company. The company told BTS that after the new amendment to the Military Service Act was proposed, we were wary of making a decision in regards to their military service, and the BTS members maturely accepted this and left the matter in the hands of the company,” he continued.
“To put it precisely, the policy on military service is changing, and it’s true that the BTS members are having a hard time because it’s difficult for them to predict the timing [of their military service]. Since it’s difficult for them to make plans, both the BTS members and the company are currently keeping a close eye on the proposed amendment,” he added.
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“Ultimately, we plan to do our utmost so that a decision can be reached that is beneficial to both our society and BTS. As the matter of BTS’s military service is something that the entire world is interested in, it appears that the debate [over the issue] is nearing an end both within society and within the National Assembly, so we hope that the issue will be resolved within this current National Assembly,” he said, concluding: “If the issue passes on to the next National Assembly, the debate will continue without any promises, and because it’s true that the uncertainty [over BTS’s military service] is making things difficult, we hope that [the National Assembly] will reach a decision as soon as possible.”