BTS members to perform military service in South Korea

Their agency said the seven members of BTS – one of the biggest music groups in the world – would perform military service in their home country of South Korea, ending a long national debate over whether they should get an exemption.

While many fans of the K-pop sensation hoped that the members of the group would be given special attention due to their contribution to the South Korean economy and international standing, both artists will serve nearly two years in the military.

Media reports have said that Jin, the oldest member of the group, will be the first to exchange his stage clothes for a uniform shortly after turning 30 in December. The six other members, born between 1993 and 1997, will follow suit, and the band is expected to reform around 2025, according to their management company, Big Hit Music.

Big Hit, part of BTS’s agency Hybe, said Monday that the group members are “moving forward with their plans to perform their military service,” adding that, “As everyone embarks on individual pursuits, now is the perfect time for BTS members to be honored to serve.” .

“Group member Jen will begin the process once his solo release schedule expires at the end of October,” it added in a statement. Other members of the group plan to perform their military service based on their individual plans.

All healthy South Korean men under the age of 30 must serve in the military for between 18 and 21 months – a duty aimed at preserving the country’s ability to defend against a possible attack by North Korea, which is technically still in a state war with her.

Some notable South Koreans have been exempted or allowed to perform alternative public service, including Olympic and Asian Games medalists and award-winning classical musicians and dancers. They include Seong-jin Cho, the first Korean pianist to win the Chopin international piano competition, and Tottenham footballer Son Heung-min who won gold at the 2018 Asian Games.

Some South Korean lawmakers have voiced support for the exemption, despite concerns it might invite accusations of favouritism, not least among other young people who have no choice but to serve.

Refusal to complete military service is a crime in South Korea, and can lead to imprisonment and social stigma, as actor and singer Steve Yu discovered when he was deported and denied entry to the country after he avoided conscription by naturalizing US citizenship in 2002, months before he was due to enlist.

Earlier this month, Lee Ki-sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers that it would be “desirable” for squad members to carry out their military duties to ensure justice in the country’s military service.

The decision comes months after BTS announced that they were taking a break as a group to focus on individual careers.

The band gathered to give a free concert Saturday in Busan in support of the coastal city’s campaign to host the 2030 World’s Fair.

The award-winning group has sold over 30 million albums worldwide and earned two Grammy Award nominations en route to reaching the top of the US and UK charts.

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