Four remaining BTS members start military enlistment process
SEOUL – The last four members of South Korean mega group BTS who have yet to undertake their mandatory military service have begun the process of enlisting, the K-pop stars’ label said Wednesday.
All able-bodied men in South Korea must serve at least 18 months in the military and, after a years-long debate about whether BTS deserved an exemption, Jin, the oldest member of the group, enlisted last year, followed by his bandmate J-Hope in April.
A third member, Suga, started his service in September.
Now, all four of the group’s remaining members – RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook – are set to soon begin their service as well, the septet’s label BigHit Music said in a statement on Weverse.
“We would like to inform our fans that RM, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook have initiated the military enlistment process,” it said.
“We ask you for your continued love and support for RM, Jimin, V and Jungkook until they complete their military service and safely return.”
Before BTS went on a hiatus in June last year, they had bagged six No. 1 hits on the US Hot 100 chart. All seven members of the boy band have also reached the top of the charts with solo tracks, Billboard said.
Since their debut in 2013, BTS have been credited with generating billions of dollars for their country, as well as boosting the image and soft power of South Korea – now a global cultural powerhouse.
They have been invited to speak at the United Nations, and to meet US President Joe Biden at the White House.
Earlier this year, the chairman of the septet’s agency, Mr Bang Si-hyuk, said that making BTS do their military service was slowing the global growth of K-pop.
South Korea offers exemptions from military service to some people, including Olympic medal-winning athletes and some classical musicians, but K-pop stars are not eligible under the existing programme.
And in an intensely competitive industry where artistes can be easily replaced, some male K-pop stars have faced challenges in resuming their careers after fulfilling their duties.
BTS’s agency Hybe – BigHit is a label under it – announced in September that all seven members of the group had renewed their contracts, without giving further details.
The announcement implies that all seven members are likely to stay with the agency even after completing their military service. - AFP