K-pop stars BTS to serve military duty, starting with oldest member Jin, Latest Music News - The New Paper

K-pop stars BTS to serve military duty, starting with oldest member Jin

SEOUL -The members of K-pop supergroup BTS will enlist in the military, their agency said on Monday, putting an end to a years-long debate on whether the stars deserved exemptions from mandatory service.

All able-bodied South Korean men under the age of 30 must perform about two years of military service, mainly because the country remains technically at war with nuclear-armed North Korea.

BTS are credited with generating billions for the South Korean economy, and their label enjoyed a surge in profits despite holding fewer concerts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Oldest member Jin, 29, has put off his service for as long as he can and faces the imminent prospect of a full stint - meaning nearly two years out of the public eye - when he turns 30 in December.

Big Hit Music, part of BTS’s agency Hybe, said on Monday that “the members of BTS are currently moving forward with plans to fulfil their military service”.

It noted in a statement that “as each individual embarks on solo endeavours, it’s the perfect time and the members of BTS are honoured to serve”.

“Group member Jin will initiate the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October,” it added. “Other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans.”

"Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment," HYBE-owned Bighit Music, which manages BTS, said in a separate statement.

Jin had announced the release of his solo album during a concert in Busan on Saturday, where the boy band reunited to perform a free concert in support of South Korea’s bid to host the World Expo 2030 in the port city.

“I was able to collaborate with someone I really adore,” he told fans, without explaining further.

Refusing to complete one’s mandatory service is a crime in South Korea, and can lead to imprisonment and social stigma.

Exemptions from military service are granted to some elite athletes, such as Olympic medallists, and to classical musicians – but pop stars do not qualify.

BTS had already benefited from a 2020 revision to the conscription law that moved the age limit for some entertainers to sign up from 28 to 30 years old.

South Korea’s Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup said in August that BTS might be allowed to continue performing and preparing for international concerts even while undertaking military duties.

In June, the septet dropped the bombshell announcement that they were taking a break as a group to pursue solo projects. - AFP, REUTERS

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