It doesn't matter how many records you sell or how many stan accounts you have. In South Korea, you still have to complete mandatory military service.
BTS, known as one of the biggest acts in the world, announced today that they will be taking a break to complete their mandatory two years of military service. The surprising news was shared by their management company BIGHIT.
According to the full announcement, it won't be so sudden. "BIGHIT MUSIC has focused to the milestone moment when it would be possible to respect the needs of the country and for these healthy young men to serve with their countrymen, and that's now," it said. "Group member Jin will initiate the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October. . . Other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans."
Whatever those individual plans are, their enlistment is expected to happen soon. As BIGHIT announced, the group plans on reconvening "around 2025."
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In South Korea, all able-bodied men must serve at least 18 months in the military by the time they turn 28 due to ongoing tension and threats with North Korea. Not all singers need to enlist, and special exemptions can be made for athletes and performers who are deemed globally significant and have won government-accredited or international competitions. In the past, several Olympic gold medal winners have been granted exceptions, but it has caused a lot of controversy with coaches being accused of choosing players who want to avoid military duty and parents encouraging their kids to sign up for sports in hopes of being granted an exemption.
On the music side, exemptions can be given to ballet dancers and classical musicians. K-Pop is not yet considered a genre worth exemption, but the government did implement a two-year extension that allows those young artists to wait until 30 to join. There have reportedly been talks of exemption due to the contributions BTS made to South Korean culture, but it appears they haven't been fruitful.
For now, the fans will continue to hold onto BTS merch and keep those streams up. 2025 can't come soon enough.
Photo courtesy of Jojo Korsh/BFA
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