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BTS Members Will Serve in South Korean Military

FILE - RM, center, and other K-pop supergroup BTS members speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2022.
FILE - RM, center, and other K-pop supergroup BTS members speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, May 31, 2022.
BTS Members Will Serve in S. Korean Military
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The members of K-pop band BTS will serve their required military service under South Korean law. The band’s management company made the announcement Monday.

There had been debate over whether the group members could be given an exemption from service because of their artistic success.

Big Hit Music said the band’s oldest member, Jin, will cancel his request to delay his service. The six other BTS members also plan to serve in the military.

The group is looking forward to joining together again “around 2025 following their service commitment,” the company said in a statement.

No additional information on the timing of their service was given. The band members performed together in Busan, Korea, over the weekend. That will be their last performance as a group until they finish serving in the military, Big Hit said.

Hybe is the parent company of Big Hit. In a letter to shareholders, Hybe CEO Park Jiwon said there should not be financial concerns related to the BTS military service. He said the company had signed other successful artists like K-pop group NewJeans, and Western performers Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande.

“We have always been aware of the eventuality of mandatory military service, and we have long been making preparations to be ready for this moment,” Park wrote. He added that “individual activities for several of the members are planned into the first half of 2023…”

The announcement came after South Korea’s commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers this month that it would be “desirable” for BTS members to serve in the military. He said it would guarantee fairness.

After joining the military, Jin and other BTS members will receive five weeks of combat training before being assigned to units, military officials said. The officials said that the singers would go through the same process as other South Korean men.

South Korea’s military for years had assigned entertainers to jobs related to producing radio and television material for the military. But the “entertainment soldier” system was ended in 2013 because of concerns over fairness.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said in August that if BTS members joined the military, they would likely be permitted to continue practicing and to join with the group for tours around the world.

The possibility of BTS members serving in the army had been a highly debated issue in South Korea. Jin turns 30 in December, the age at which men can no longer delay entering the military. Other members are currently between 25 and 29 years old.

Under South Korean law, most able-bodied men are required to perform 18 to 21 months of military service. Special exemptions had been given for athletes and artists who perform well in certain international competitions.

The band formed in 2013 and has fans around the world who call themselves the “Army.”

After building a large following in Asia, BTS grew its popularity in the West with its 2020 song “Dynamite,” the band’s first all-English song. That song was the first by a K-pop group to go number 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

South Korea’s required military service interferes with young men in their professional careers or studies. Because of this, avoiding military service is a highly sensitive issue.

Opinion studies in recent weeks showed that the public was divided over whether the BTS members should serve in the military.

I’m Dan Novak.

Dan Novak adapted this story based on reporting by The Associated Press.


Words in This Story

management — n. the act or skill of controlling and making decisions about a business, department, sports team, etc.

exemption — n. freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do

CEO — n. the person who has the most authority in an organization or business

eventual — adj. coming or happening at a later time

mandatory — adj. required by a law or rule

tour — n. a journey through the different parts of a country, region, etc.

athlete — n. a person who is trained in or good at sports, games, or exercises that require physical skill and strength