South Korean entertainment company HYBE has confirmed on Oct. 17 that members of the Korean boy band BTS will serve mandatory military service.
[공지] 방탄소년단 병역 이행 및 향후 활동 계획 안내 (+ENG/JPN/CHN) pic.twitter.com/jntF90agO4— BIGHIT MUSIC (@BIGHIT_MUSIC) October 17, 2022
The first member to enlist is Kim Seokjin, also known by his stage name Jin, who is born in 1992.
According to their label, he will "initiate the [enlistment] process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October".
It was also stated that "other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans".
According to Yonhap News, all able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve in the military for about two years.
In 2020, the South Korean government amended the Military Service Act to allow globally-recognised K-pop artistes, such as BTS, to postpone their enlistment to age 30, according to Reuters.
Generally, South Korean men must serve between the ages of 18 and 28.
This exemption can be granted to athletes, classical and traditional musicians and dancers, who have won top prizes in competitions that boost the prestige of the country.
These world renowned South Koreans can also do alternative services in their respective fields instead of serving in active military duty as the current laws allows for that, Yonhap reported.
All of BTS's seven members have been eligible for deferral since 2018, due to their impact on global culture.
Although there was talk about whether the band should serve or be exempted from military service, both the South Korean military and the group's members have expressed their wishes for the group to serve.
During a press conference in 2020, Jin said: "I think military service is a duty as a Korean citizen, and I will respond at any time if the country calls."
The youngest BTS member, Jungkook, was born in 1997.
Serving military provides more clarity for longevity of BTS
The decision to just go ahead and serve in the South Korean military is seen as a boon for BTS.
The previous lack of clarity about their near future plans has plagued the planning for their longevity as a super group.
HYBE previously urged South Korean lawmakers in April 2022 to come to a decision on bills that would grant exemptions from active military duty to globally recognised male pop culture artists, such as BTS.
The entertainment industry was of the opinion that having the clarity will allow planning the runway for the group for the next 30 to 40 years.
With the decision to serve more or less finalised, one way forward is for the individual members to expose their musical talents as solo artists when the group cannot perform together.
The ability for each member to still remain in the spotlight will ensure continuity even when some members are in the military.
According to Nikkei, a survey conducted by the National Defense Committee found that 60.9 per cent of the respondents support the bills calling for including pop artists in the exemption programme, whereas 34.3 per cent were against them.
Beyond the stardom
In June 2022, the members announced that they would be taking time off to pursue solo endeavours.
Recently, they reunited for a concert to support Busan's bid for the 2030 World Expo.
Since the band's formation in 2010, BTS, an acronym of Bangtan Sonyeondan, also known as Beyond The Scene, is arguably the biggest boyband in the world now.
Generating $1.25 trillion won (S$1.24 million) in revenue in 2021, the mark that they have left on the Korean economy is undeniable.
They have swept up all sorts of music achievements, from three Seoul Music Daesang Awards, to two Grammy Awards, and even breaking 28 Guinness World Records as of 2022.
BTS addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Sep. 20, 2021, highlighting the importance of a sustainable future and calling upon the youth to not give up hope.
On May 31, they visited the White House to meet with American President Joe Biden to speak out against rising anti-Asian violence.
The best is Yet to Come
Ending the statement in a hopeful tone, the statement mentions the possibility of the band reuniting in the near future.
"Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment," the statement concluded.
Top photo via HYBE