SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Members of the K-pop band BTS will serve their mandatory military duties under South Korean law, their management company said Monday, effectively ending debate over whether they could be exempted because of their artistic achievements.
Big Hit Music has announced that the band’s oldest member, Jin, will withdraw his request to postpone the recruitment at the end of the month and take the necessary steps for recruitment. The other six members also plan to serve in the military, according to the company’s filing with financial regulators, which it described as management-related information that could influence investment decisions.
Big Hit released another one announcement on Twittersaying that the company and BTS members are “looking forward to reuniting as a group around 2025 after their service commitments.”
No further information was given about the time of their service. The band members performed together in Busan over the weekend in support of the city’s EXPO bid, in what will be their last concert as a group until they finish serving in the military, according to their label.
“Each member of BTS will focus on their individual activities for now based on their plans to serve in the military,” Hybe Corp., Big Hit’s parent company, said in an email to The Associated Press.
The announcement came after Lee Ki Sik, the commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers this month that the “preferred” that BTS members fulfill their military duties to ensure fairness in military service in the country.
After enlistment, Jin and other BTS members will undergo five weeks of combat training before being assigned to specific units and duties, according to military administration officials, who stressed that the singers will go through the same process as other South Korean men.
While South Korea’s military has for years assigned conscripted entertainers to duties related to the production of radio and TV material promoting the military, the “entertainer soldier” system was retired in 2013 after complaints about fairness.
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said in August that if BTS members join the military, they will likely be allowed to continue training and join the group on overseas tours.
Whether BTS members must serve in the military has been a hotly debated issue in South Korea as Jin faces possible conscription early next year. Jin turns 30 in December, the age at which men can no longer delay enlistment.
Under South Korean law, most men of military age must serve 18-21 months of military service, but special exemptions are granted for athletes and artists who excel in certain international competitions associated with national prestige.
Since South Korea’s conscription interrupts young men in their professional careers or studies, avoiding military duty or creating exemptions is a very sensitive issue. Public opinion polls in recent weeks have shown that the public is divided over whether BTS members should serve in the military.