SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — The members of K-pop band BTS will serve their mandatory military duties under South Korean law, their management company said Monday, effectively ending a debate on exempting them because of their artistic accomplishments.
Big Hit Music said the band’s oldest member, Jin, will revoke his request to delay his conscription at the end of the month and undertake the required conscription steps. The six other members also plan to serve in the military, according to the company’s notice to financial regulators, which it described as management-related information that could possibly affect investment decisions.
Big Hit issued another statement on Twitter, saying the company and BTS members are “looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment.”
No further information on the timing of their service was given. The band members performed together in Busan over the weekend in support of the city’s EXPO bid, but only solo projects appear to be planned until 2025.
The announcement came after Lee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers this month that it would be “desirable” for BTS members to fulfil their military duties to ensure fairness in the country’s military service.
Whether the BTS members must serve in the army had been a hotly debated issue in South Korea as Jin faced possible enlistment early next year after turning 30 in December.
Under South Korean law, most able-bodied men are required to perform 18-21 months of military service, but special exemptions had been granted for athletes and artists who excel in certain international competitions that have been tied with national prestige.
Since South Korea’s draft interrupts young males in their professional careers or studies, the dodging of military duties or creation of exemptions is a highly sensitive issue. Opinion surveys in recent weeks showed that the public was split over whether the BTS members should serve in the military.
The Associated Press