BTS takes a break from performing compulsory national service

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SA crowded retail street in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
Source: (SGML) © Jupiterimages—PHOTOS.com/Getty Images

K-pop supergroup BTS will take a break while the members complete their mandatory national service in the South Korean military. The group first announced a hiatus in June 2022 for the members to do solo projects.

Almost all able-bodied men must serve in the south korean military before the age of 28. Men must serve for 18 months in army20 months in the Marineor 21 months in the aviation.

While service delays were previously allowed for artists, musicians and athletes, a 2020 addendum allowed pop stars who “exceed in popular culture and art” to postpone service until they reach the age of 30 years. The 2020 law added exemptions for K-pop stars after BTS’ “Dynamite.” reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making BTS the first South Korean group to debut at the top. At the time, the oldest member was 28, meaning the band should have gone on hiatus when it topped the US charts. BTS has since had six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200 charts and their value was estimated at $50 million.

Of the seven members, Jin will be enlisting first, after his solo release schedule ends at the end of October, as his 30th birthday is this year. The other members are expected to fulfill their duties during the group’s hiatus, with BTS reuniting again in 2025 to entertain their fans, ARMY [“Adorable Representative MC for Youth”].

Discussion Questions

1. Should national service, military or civil, be required? Why or why not?

2. Should exemptions from national service policies be granted to pop stars (or other artists)? Explain your answer(s).

3. If national service was compulsory, what would you do to meet the requirements? Explain your choice(s).

Sources

BBC News, “BTS: K-Pop stars to take time off for military service”, bbc.comOctober 17, 2022

Soo-Hyang Choi, “K-Pop Stars BTS Will Serve in the Army,” Reuters.comOctober 17, 2022

Kim Tong-Hyung, “BTS to perform mandatory military duties in South Korea, will regroup as a group in 2025,” usatoday.comOctober 17, 2022

Justin McCurry, “BTS members will do their military service in South Korea”, theguardian.comOctober 17, 2022

Rhea Mogul, “K-Pop Group BTS May Defer Military Service After South Korea Passes New Law” cnn.comDecember 2, 2020

Siladitya Ray, “BTS will reunite in 2025 – after completing South Korea’s mandatory military service,” forbes.comOctober 17, 2022

Yoonjung Seo and Amy Woodyatt, “BTS Members to Undertake Mandatory Military Service,” cnn.comOctober 17, 2022

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