BTS enter military service: Jin is the first
Dhe “Army”, as the followers of the Korean boy band BTS call themselves, must now be very strong: the seven artists of what is probably the most famous music group in the world lay down their microphones for the service with the weapon.
Big Hit Music label announced on Tuesday that the group had decided to do military service, which is compulsory for South Korean men. “BTS members are honored to serve their country,” the label said in a statement. As the oldest band member, 29-year-old Jin will submit the necessary documents to the South Korean military’s personnel department at the end of the month. The other band members will follow “according to their individual plans”.
Compulsory military service for up to 22 months
The band’s decision ends a political debate that has been going on for months and has also occupied the South Korean parliament. Since South and North Korea are still formally at war with each other, all healthy South Korean men are required by law to do 18 to 22 months of military service.
At the latest at the age of 28, the men are drafted into South Korea. For BTS, which has also been the former President Moon Jae-in on a government trip to the United States, politicians turned a blind eye for a long time due to their popularity.
In 2020, the law that regulates military service was changed specifically for the band. Artists who receive a government award — like BTS — have since been allowed to postpone their enlistment until their 30th birthday. Just before Jin’s 28th birthday, the new rule came just in time to delay his recruitment. But the special treatment of the stars by the previous democratic government was not well received in all political camps.
BTS anticipate a political solution
MPs from the conservative governing party People Power Party (PPP) have repeatedly made it clear that there should be no exceptions for the seven musicians. A few weeks ago, a conservative politician in the Defense Committee even quoted from a piece by BTS. “When my time comes, I will join the army,” Han Ki-ho (PPP) read from a song’s lyrics.
The group has thus expressed its willingness to serve the people, he said. In the Democratic Party, on the other hand, reference was made to the exceptions made, for example, for performers of classical music or professional athletes. With their decision, the seven artists are now anticipating a political – and possibly reputation-damaging – solution.
The band’s international fanbase had hoped until the end that Jin, RM, J-Hope, Jimin, Jungkook, Suga and V would avoid military service. “I’m not ready to become a soldier’s wife,” commented one user on Big Hit Music’s message published on Twitter. Die-hard fans shouldn’t have been surprised by the news, however.
The next BTS concert will not be until 2025
For several months, BTS have increasingly appeared as individual artists; For a long time it was speculated whether the seven artists wanted to prepare their fan base for a longer break for military service. The coming period will offer artists the opportunity to “try out individual projects”, the label has now confirmed this assumption. Jungkook recently released the song “Left and Right” with American singer Charlie Puth.
The band’s last concert together was only a few days ago. On Saturday, BTS performed in front of 50,000 people in the South Korean port city of Busan to support the city’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo. Now the “Army” will have to be patient for some time until the band will be back on stage in full. “Around 2025” the seven musicians should come together again as a group, according to the band’s label.
Meanwhile, the South Korean Army Personnel Office said Jin’s starting date will be determined “taking full account of vacancies in units, the number of people on waiting lists and relevant administrative procedures.” Referring to the average length of the recruitment process, the South Korean media speculated that he could be drafted as early as December. However, Jin will be making even more public appearances in the coming weeks as he is currently marketing a solo project, according to Big Hit Music.
So far, the future soldier has only commented non-verbally on his decision. Jin uploaded two pictures to Instagram over the weekend holding a sign that read, “Even though a lot is changing, we’re not changing.”