It’s a good news/bad news scenario for ARMY. On the one hand, the members of BTS will definitely have to complete their mandatory military service. However, according to the Korea Times, RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jung Kook will be free to participate in “national” events for the “public good” the South Korean defense ministry reportedly said on Tuesday (Oct. 17).
“Our position is that we will provide an opportunity if they wish to participate when there is a national-level event for the public good or an event designed in light of the national interest,” Col. Moon Hong-sik, the ministry’s acting spokesperson said during a press briefing after BTS’ label Big Hit Music announced that all seven members plan to complete their full service obligations. At press time the the defense ministry had not specified what kind of national event would be covered under the exemption, though the Times reported earlier this month that defense minister Lee Jong-sup said that BTS members could potentially join overseas performances during their hitch; a spokesperson for BTS had not returned a request for additional comment.
First up is eldest member, Jin, 29, who on Tuesday announced an Oct. 28 release date for his new solo single, “The Astronaut.”
“Jin will initiate the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October,” the label said in a statement. “He will then follow the enlistment procedure of the Korean government. Other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans.” (As such, BTS won’t be expected to reconvene with all seven members until around 2025.)
All able-bodied male South Korean citizens must serve in the armed forces for at least 18 months, though the length of service may vary. Draft begins in the year they turn 18 but the men may postpone it until age 28. In December 2020, the South Korean National Assembly passed the so-called “BTS law” to allow K-pop entertainers to postpone the service until the age of 30, with a recommendation from the culture minister.
Jin is turning 30 in December and is the oldest member. Jungkook, the youngest, is 25 years old.
The mandatory military service for the band as well as Korean male pop stars in general has divided the country in recent years, as K-pop’s popularity has grown worldwide. While many, including some lawmakers, say the musicians’ contribution to the country’s global recognition should qualify them for an exemption, others, including some in the defense ministry, have opposed the move.