BTS fans and politicians in South Korea call for military service exemption | Ents & Arts News
Fans of K-pop stars BTS are calling for the band to be given exemptions or delays to mandatory military service in South Korea.
By law, all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 28 in the country must serve in the military for about two years as part of its defences against North Korea.
BTS have become worldwide stars in the past few years, selling out stadiums including Wembley and smashing streaming and viewing records. They have just become the first South Korean group to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and have a huge global fan base.
However, Jin, the eldest member of the K-pop band, is 27, and is therefore required to sign up for military service by the end of next year. The other six bandmates – RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook – will also reach the age of conscription over the next few years.
Fans and even some politicians in South Korea argue they are already doing enough for their country.
“Not everyone has to take up a rifle to serve the country,” Noh Woong-rae, a senior member of the ruling Democratic Party, said at a meeting of the party on Monday.
South Korea has previously granted exemptions for high-profile athletes such as Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min, as well as classical musicians including the award-winning pianist Seong-Jin cho, but to date there have been none for K-pop stars.
In September, Democratic Party member Jeon Yong-gi proposed to revise the law so that some K-pop stars could delay their service until the age of 30.
“For the sake of the fairness we are not talking about exempting them from their duty, but pop musicians and artists like BTS – their careers can blossom in their twenties,” he said.
“We cannot let military duty block their way at the height of their careers.”
Residents in South Korea also appear to support special treatment for the band.
A survey by domestic news website Kuki News reported that just under a third (31.3%) of respondents believed the band should not have to carry out military service, while another 28.6% supported it being delayed. Some 30.5% supported normal military service, according to the survey.
Big Hit Entertainment, the band’s label, has declined to comment on the issue.
Previously, individual members have said they are willing to complete their service.
“Military service is the natural duty and when duty calls, I will respond any time,” Jin told a news conference in February.