BTS members will serve in the South Korean army, reorganize in ’25

SEOUL, South Korea – Members of the K-pop band BTS will perform their mandatory military duties under South Korean law, their management company said Monday, ending a debate over whether to grant them exemptions due to their artistic accomplishments.

Big Hit Music said the band’s oldest member, Jin, will revoke his request to delay his draft at the end of the month and take the required measures. The other six BTS members are also planning to serve in the military and “look forward to reuniting as a group around 2025 following their service commitment,” the company said in a statement.

No further information was provided on the timing of their service. The band members performed together in Busan over the weekend in support of the city’s EXPO offering, which will be their last gig as a group until they finish serving in the military, according to their label.

Hybe Corp., the parent company of Big Hit, said in an email to the Associated Press that each member of the band for now will focus on the individual activities planned around their military service plans.

In a letter to shareholders, Hybe Park CEO Jiwon downplayed financial concerns related to the BTS hiatus, saying he has a sufficiently large lineup of artists, including other famous K-pop groups such as Le Sserafim and NewJeans, and Western artists Justin Bieber. and Ariana Grande.

“We have always been aware of the possibility of compulsory military service and have been preparing for a long time to be ready for this moment,” wrote Park. “In the short term, individual activities for many of the members are planned for the first half of 2023 and we have secured content ahead of time, which will allow BTS to continue their engagement with fans for the foreseeable future.”

The announcement came after Lee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers this month that it would be “desirable” for BTS members to fulfill their military duties to ensure fairness in the country’s military service.

After enlisting, Jin and other BTS members will receive five weeks of combat training before being assigned to specific units and duties, according to Military Manpower Administration officials, who pointed out that the singers would undergo the same process as others. South Korean men.

While the South Korean military had for years assigned enlisted entertainers to duties related to the production of radio and television material that promoted the army, the “entertainment soldier” system was withdrawn in 2013 following equity complaints.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said in August that if BTS members joined the military, they would likely be allowed to continue practicing and join the group for touring overseas.

Whether BTS members should serve in the military has been a hotly debated issue in South Korea as Jin faced possible enlistment early next year. Jin turns 30 in December, the age when men can no longer delay enrollment. Other members are currently between 25 and 29 years old, with Suga turning 30 in March.

Under South Korean law, most able-bodied men are required to perform 18-21 months of military service, but special exemptions have been granted for athletes and performers who excel in some international competitions related to national prestige.

The band – its other members are J-Hope, RM, Jungkook, V and Jimin – was launched in 2013 and has a legion of global supporters calling themselves “Army”.

After building a huge following in Asia, BTS expanded their popularity in the West with their 2020 megahit “Dynamite”, the band’s first all-English song that made them the first K-pop group to reach the top. on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The band has performed in sold out arenas around the world and has even been invited to speak at UN meetings.

Since the South Korean project disrupts young males in their professional careers or studies, the avoidance of military duties or the creation of exemptions is a very sensitive issue. Opinion polls in recent weeks have shown that the public was divided over whether BTS members should serve in the military.

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