K-pop supergroup BTS shocked the world on June 14 by announcing a hiatus. The band members said their exhaustion was the reason for their breakup and sought fans’ trust in them while negotiating their way forward.
HYBE later clarified that BTS was not taking a break, but that the members would give more time to their solo engagements while continuing to work as a group.
Speaking to the country’s media, South Korean lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun said the uncertainty surrounding the impending military enlistment threatened the mental peace of the group’s members.
Jin, the oldest member, is expected to join the military by the end of 2022. That’s why other members have decided to focus on individual activities. However, BTS’s agency HYBE did not confirm the lawmaker’s claims.
South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Says Public Opinion Will Dictate BTS’s Military Exemption
Park Bo-gyun, South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, addressed the issue of special immunity for the K-pop group from the country’s compulsory military enlistment.
At a press conference held at a government compound in Sejong on July 4, the minister said public opinion will be the most important factor in deciding whether to exempt BTS from compulsory enlistment.
South Korean law requires all males between the ages of 18 and 28 to complete two years of compulsory enlistment in the military as part of defense efforts against a hostile North Korea.
The minister said,
“I believe that military service is a sacred duty.”
He also praised the K-pop group and added that,
“BTS has promoted K culture around the world and advanced the prestige of the nation.”
Exceptions to the law were made for certain categories of men allowing them to defer service for a certain time or to serve for a shorter period. These were given mainly to Olympic medalists or Asian Games champions as well as classical musicians and dancers to bring pride and recognition to the country.
Compulsory enlistment law changed in 2020 to allow K-pop idols to defer enlistment for up to 30 years
In 2020, when BTS was at the peak of their career, South Korea’s parliament changed the law to allow K-pop stars to postpone their service until they turned 30.
BTS’ oldest member Jin, 29, who turns 30 in December, now faces the looming prospect of serving in the military for two years away from the public eye.
While members of BTS and their agency have repeatedly said they are ready to obey government orders, there have been calls for a full exemption for the group, including one by the former culture minister. , for BTS’ contribution to improving South Korea’s international reputation. .
This “soft power” that has helped South Korea gain fame around the world should be considered when asking BTS members to enlist.
The former Minister of Culture said:
“BTS did a job that would take over 1,000 diplomats.”
BTS had a huge impact on South Korea’s economy and international reputation
BTS was the first K-pop group to perform sold-out concerts in the United States and Europe. They donated money to the #BLACKLIVESMATTER movement. Their fans have also contributed extensively to social causes, thrusting the band into the political spotlight for their influence.
They were the first K-pop group to address the United Nations General Assembly endorsing UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited campaign to find cutting-edge solutions to get every young person into school, training or a age-appropriate employment by 2030 and raising awareness of UN sustainable development. Development goals.
In 2020, the K-pop group released their first English single, dynamitewhich debuted at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
A study by South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in conjunction with a government tourism institute predicted that the English industry alone could generate 1.7 trillion won ($1.43 billion) in economic activity and nearly 8,000 new jobs.
Along with direct sales of more than 400 billion won, it would drive nearly 600 billion won in cosmetics sales and nearly 180 billion won in food and beverages, according to the study.
All seven band members were awarded the South Korean Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit in 2018, which is the country’s highest honor for cultural excellence.
A poll conducted in South Korea showed that nearly 60% of citizens support granting an exemption to BTS for their outstanding contributions to South Korea.
A poll by Gallup Korea (an American research organization based in South Korea) showed that 59% of citizens supported the exemption of famous artists like BTS from mandatory military service, given their contribution to National Prestige. Only 33% of people were against such an exemption.
South Korean parliament debates amendments to compulsory enlistment law to cut training period for globally acclaimed K-pop idols from two years to three weeks
In light of public opinion in the country, Yoon Sang-hyun of the ruling People Power Party proposed an amendment to shorten the two-year enlistment period to three weeks of military training for K-pop stars of such worldwide fame.
However, the debate rages on whether popular culture should have the same importance as the Olympics, etc. The Olympics is an international event where the entire South Korean population cheers for the same team, but not everyone in the country is a K-pop fan. . Many South Koreans expressed a lack of interest in K-pop and K-drama culture.
There are fears of amendments making it possible to abuse the derogations to be granted and allowing citizens not to fulfill their fundamental duties towards the nation.
Plus, K-pop isn’t the only industry hoping for a change in the rules. Exemptions have been requested by engineers and researchers in computer chips and other technology fields.
The Ministry of Defense also reiterated the importance of the service and called for careful consideration of the issue of fairness exemptions.
BTS members are currently focusing on their solo projects
With the group’s fate hanging in the balance, the members have already begun to focus on their careers, starting with Jung kook, who features in Charlie Puth’s new single Left and right. The song debuted at number 3 on Spotify’s Global Songs chart.
I-hope BTS will release their first solo album, jack in the box
BTS rapper j-hope has also scheduled the release of his first solo album jack in the box, the 15th of July. His first single in preview, AFTER, was released on July 1 and reached No. 1 on Spotify’s World Song Chart.
K-pop and K-dramas have been one of South Korea’s most successful exports and are key parts of the Hallyu wave that has swept the world in recent decades.