- BBC News World
They have been one of the most successful musical groups in the world in recent years, but now the K-pop band BTS will leave their “army” of fans to join the South Korean Army and thus fulfill their mandatory military service, according to reported their agents.
The announcement ends years of debate over whether members of the world’s biggest boy band could get away with this duty.
The law in South Korea states that all men between the ages of 18 and 28 must enlist for compulsory military service, which lasts between 18 and 21 months.
In the past, some prominent citizens, including Olympians or award-winning entertainers, have been exempted or allowed to perform alternative public service. That has been the case of Son Heung-min, a player for the Tottenham soccer team; and musician Seong-jin Cho, who was the first Korean to win the international Chopin piano competition.
In the case of BTS members, they have been allowed to delay starting military service until they are 30 years old. The oldest of them, Jin, is currently 29 years old.
He will begin preparations and will be the first to join the army. It is expected that the rest of the members -the youngest is 24 years old- will be added progressively.
Previously, in 2020, the band had achieved a reprieve when the South Korean Parliament passed a law allowing BTS members to defer performing this duty until their 30th birthday.
South Korea keeps conscription in place because the country is technically still at war with North Korea, its nuclear-armed neighbor.
Reunion in 2025?
BTS’s announcement comes just a few months after the band reported it would be taking a break, with some members pursuing individual projects.
The K-pop group has been the world’s best-selling artist for the past two years, known for catchy, upbeat hits like dynamite Y butter. They have also been praised for their advocacy for the mental health of young people.
Considered by many South Koreans to be part of the national heritage, some lawmakers suggested the band could be granted an exemption so they could continue performing.
Nevertheless, the statement from the representatives of the band indicates that the musicians areán happy to do their duty and that Jin, who had originally requested that his service start date be delayed, had canceled that request.
The announcement suggests that the band probably won’t be back together for at least a couple of years.
“Both the company and the members of BTS hope to reunite as a group around 2025, following their commitment to the service,” the company that runs the band said in a statement.
Discussing the gang’s prospects in August, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup suggested the group could still perform while serving military service.
“There would be a way to give them a chance to practice and perform together,” he said.
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The successful band of K-pop BTS leaves the stage to serve in the military in South Korea – BBC News World