BTS Members To Join Military Service until 2025
Most fans aren’t ready to see bald BTS.
BTS members are planning to begin their mandatory military service starting this year. They might only get back together around 2025, per an official statement from their management company. BTS fans have been outraged, yet many of these reactions ignore the social and political context of South Korean mandatory military service.
All South Korean men must serve in the military for at least 18 months. Conscription in South Korea has existed since 1957. Women aren’t required to perform military service but can voluntarily join the military. By law, when a South Korean man turns 18 years old, he’s enlisted for first citizen service, making them liable for military duty but not required to serve. Upon turning 19-20, he’d have to go through an Impairment & Disability evaluation to determine their suitability for military service. If they are deemed suitable for military service, they must enlist by age 28.
But, there is an exception to this rule: award-winning global athletes and classical musicians recommended by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, who can replace military duty with alternative services. Unfortunately, the South Korean boy band doesn’t fit within this category. And, speculation had been rampant for months, theorizing that the K-Pop group could be granted an exemption from the rule.
BigHit Music confirmed it through Twitter. The group’s oldest member, Kim Seok-jin, will be the first to enlist after dropping his first solo album in October. The other band members will follow suit, but exact time frames were not discussed.
A two-year extension for notable K-Pop artists could be provided by the government for their career, with the age for joining the military being 30. Some media outlets stated that this amendment was to benefit Kim Seok-jin, who was about to turn 28 at the time. BTS’ contributions to the spread of Korean culture and Hallyu made exemptions for their group a trending topic both in and outside South Korea.
Since making this statement, the government has been in a back-and-forth final decision with BTS members, and fans were unsure if a final exception would be made for them. It seems as if BTS members took the matter into their hands, though there’s no confirmation from an official authority on what happened behind the scenes.
Due to age differences, not all boy band members will go simultaneously, with an estimate of 2 to 3 at a time being most accurate. Jin and Suga will serve through the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, as they were born in 1992 and 1993, respectively. Military service could also mean going to the Navy for some, which is 21 months instead of 18.
In the meantime, fans have solo albums, units, and previous content, with some expressing relief that 2025 isn’t that far away.