For dedicated fans of Korean pop culture and its many performers, particularly the good-looking heartthrob males, from actors to idols to boy bands, there is always that dark shadow hanging over everyone’s adulation of the K-showbiz guys. That is the two-year mandatory military service required for all able-bodied South Korean men (and something women could volunteer for). It is a necessary burden that makes all males in South Korea equal, and something nearly impossible to receive exemption for. A number of K-Pop groups have had to part ways as its members get called to report for duty. Even international Korean sensation BTS is not exempt.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the seven-man band of BTS, which has helped keep the Korean Wave sweeping across the globe, could soon be losing their oldest member Jin to compulsory military service. Jin will be 27 years old by December, and the South Korean military compels enlistment at age 28. The rest of the members of BTS are not that far away from there themselves, which is why, upon notice that the South Korean Ministry of Defense will not give exemptions to the group, their fans the “BTS Army” is now calling on their country’s military not to split them up during their service.
The Ministry of Defense explains that the BTS boy band do not meet the very narrow criteria that would have availed them a precious exemption from military conscription. Thus far, legislation has only accorded such privileges to Korean national athletes who have won international competitions like the Olympics, or classical musicians that have won awards from overseas. Rarer still are exemptions given due to a potential conscript’s extreme poor health, or the dire financial needs of the family that might lose vital income while the recruit is performing his service.
Conscription has been an absolute necessity since 1957 for South Korea, which is technically still at war with the hermit state of North Korea. And while the BTS Army fandom themselves are not looking forward to it, the members of the group are all determined that they will serve their two years as is their duty as Koreans. This is why the fans are now petitioning the Defense Ministry that BTS be enlisted at the same time as a group, and that the members are kept together in the same assignment rather than be spread to different military divisions as what has happened with other K-Pop groups that already serve.
They even took their voices to online petitioning platform Change.org, and their request has already garnered some 20,000 signatures for the South Korean Defense Ministry.
Image courtesy of Billboard.com