BTS: South Korean military leader says he wants K-pop group to do military service

K-pop group BTS may soon be on the front line after comments from a top Korean commander.

The wildly popular band have enjoyed runaway success around the world, but shocked fans earlier this year when they announced they were taking a a career break.

Speculation has been rife that the hiatus was due to South Korea’s requirement for young men to do their military service, and the recent comments from the Commissioner of Military Personnel Administration will only add to this. oil on the fire.

Addressing lawmakers, commissioner Lee Ki Sik said it was “desirable” for members of the K-pop group to comply with requirements that all able-bodied men serve 18 to 21 months of military service in the interest of of fairness.

He echoed previous comments made by Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup before a parliamentary committee.

Elsewhere, Culture Minister Park Bo Gyoon appeared to say his department was working to “finalize” a solution.

Will BTS have to serve in the military?

BTS achieved world renown when they released the first English K-pop song, “Butter.” The group became the first Asian group to win Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards last year and met with US President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes targeting the Asian community.

The fate of the seven members of the group is a hot topic in South Korea, where public opinion is divided.

The group’s oldest member, Jin, is at risk of enlisting after turning 30 in December, but the law provides special exemptions for athletes and classical/traditional musicians if they’ve won prestigious awards that boost the national prestige. These exemptions only apply to pre-designated prizes, excluding the many honors BTS won.

Without a review of the law, the government can take steps to grant special exemptions. But past exemptions for people who have performed well in undesignated competitions have sparked a serious debate about the fairness of the system.

In a recent survey, 61% of respondents supported exemptions for artists such as BTS, while in another, about 54% said BTS members should serve in the military.

Persons exempted from the project are discharged from the army after three weeks of basic training. They are also required to complete 544 hours of volunteer work and continue to serve in their professional fields for 34 months.

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