November 30, 2023


BTS: RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook faces possible military conscription after South Korean official’s remark? Here’s what he said.

In a shock to BTS fans, South Korea’s military appears to want to conscript members of the group for mandatory military duties. BTS comprises RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook. One of the most debated issues in South Korea, currently, is whether the group’s seven members must serve in the army. This comes even as BTS’ oldest member, Jin, faces possible enlistment early next year after turning 30 in December.

Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are required to perform 18-21 months of military service. But the law provides special exemptions for athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers who have won top prizes in certain competitions that enhance national prestige.

Recently, news agency AP, reported that commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration Lee Ki Sik told lawmakers on Friday that it’s “desirable” for BTS members to fulfil their military duties to ensure fairness in the country’s military service. Earlier this week, Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup made almost identical comments about BTS at a parliamentary committee meeting, and Culture Minister Park Bo Gyoon said his ministry would soon finalize its position on the issue.

Several amendments of the conscription law that would pave the way for BTS members to be exempted have been introduced in the National Assembly, but haven’t been voted on with lawmakers sharply divided on the matter. Without a revision of the law, the government can take steps to grant special exemptions. But past exemptions for people who performed well in non-designated competitions triggered a serious debate about the fairness of the system.

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Since the draft forces young men to suspend their professional careers or studies, the dodging of military duties or creation of exemptions is a highly sensitive issue. The public too remains sharply divided over whether BTS should be given exemptions. In a recent survey, about 61% of respondents supported exemptions for entertainers such as BTS, while in another, about 54% said BTS members should serve in the military.

In August, Lee Jong-sup had said if BTS members join the military, they would likely be allowed to continue practising and to join other non-serving BTS members in overseas group tours. People who are exempted from the draft are released from the military after three weeks of basic training. They are also required to perform 544 hours of volunteer work and continue serving in their professional fields for 34 months.

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