Despite their worldwide fame and riches, K-pop band BTS will still have to go through mandatory military service and will not receive any special treatment.
This was reported by South Korean media Yonhap News after a government official confirmed this to reporters on Tuesday (Nov 19).
Culture minister Park Yang-woo said: “In the case of BTS, I personally wish I could allow exemptions for them under certain standards, but the Military Manpower Administration and the Ministry of National Defense (in charge of conscription) are inclined to downsize the overall scope (of exemption).”
What this means is that, when the time comes, RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, Jungkook and Jin will have to report for at least 21 months of military service, which is mandatory for all able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 35.
Oldest member Jin is likely to be the first of the group to enlist; he turns 27 in December and will have to enlist when he turns 28.
The group’s fans have long called for the band to be waived from service, which does happen for award-winning athletes and classical musicians who have topped global competitions.
Last year, members of the South Korean men’s football team were excused from military service after they won a gold at the Asian Games.
Unfortunately, the exemption does not extend to pop stars, no matter how popular the group and how much publicity they have brought to the country.
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BTS is the first group to spend five weeks at No 1 on the Billboard Artist 100 chart, and the third group in 50 years to have three No 1 albums on the Billboard 200 charts in under 12 months.
The minister explained: "Unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the criteria of the selection in the popular culture and arts fields, which makes it difficult to institutionalise (a waiver system).”
The seven BTS members, however, have already confirmed that they will enlist for military service. As reported in September 2018 in The Korea Herald, the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Do Jong-hwan, said: “All of the BTS members say they will definitely enlist for military service.”
Members of other K-pop bands have gone through the mandatory service as well. In October, G-Dragon of BIGBANG finished his service, while in November, fellow bandmates Taeyang and Daesung were also discharged.