South Korea’s Defense Ministry plans to hold a public inquiry to help decide on possible exemptions from mandatory military service for K-pop boy group BTS, officials said.
The group has long made headlines over the issue because, by law, all able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 28 in the country must serve in the military for nearly two years as part of its defenses against North Korea.
In 2020, South KoreaParliament passed a bill allowing global K-pop stars such as BTS to postpone the upper age bracket for national service to 30 years.
Jin, the oldest member of the group, turns 30 in December and is now in danger of enlisting.
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup has ordered officials to consider whether a public inquiry is needed to help make the decision.
Various other factors such as the economic impact of BTS, the importance of military service and the general national interest will also be considered by the ministry, Lee said.
South Korea’s conscription system already allows exemptions for athletes, classical and traditional musicians, as well as ballet dancers and others who win top spots in certain competitions, as they are considered to have increased national prestige.
Fans and even some politicians have made calls for the scope to include K-pop stars such as BTS, as they have also significantly boosted the country’s profile internationally.
Formed in 2010, with their debut single released in 2013, BTS is the best-selling musical act in South Korea’s history and has gained worldwide recognition for their self-produced music and activism.
In May, they met with US President Joe Biden at the White House to discuss Asian inclusion and representation and to address hate crimes against Asians.
They have also won numerous awards and been nominated at ceremonies such as the Brit Awards in the UK and the Grammys in the US, and in 2021 they were named Global Artist of the Year by the International Music Federation. the phonographic industry – becoming the first act to win the award for two consecutive years.
In 2019, they made history as first Korean band to play at Wembley Stadiumwith their first sold-out party in 90 minutes.
A private survey earlier this year showed about 60% of respondents were in favor of the exemption for band members. However, a previous private survey in 2020 showed that 46% supported the exemptions while 48% opposed them.
BTS announced in June that they were take the time to explore solo projects but said they weren’t on hiatus.
The group – J-Hope, Suga, Jungkook, V, RM and Jimin, along with Jin – released the compilation album Proof earlier in the same month.