A South Korean minister has said that he would write a recommendation for BTS to delay their mandatory military enlistment, should the boyband apply for it.
As of June 23, a new amendment regarding military deferment has taken effect in South Korea. The law, which passed last year, states that pop musicians who have received cultural merits from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism may apply to defer their enlistment until the age of 30.
On the same day, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Hwang Hee, discussed the amendment in regards to global K-pop sensations BTS on local news channel YTN.
Hwang said that while the boyband have “yet to submit an application for a recommendation for the postponement,” as per Allkpop, he would recommend the group if they chose to do so. “I will definitely write a recommendation for them,” stated Hwang.
The Grammy-nominated group were awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by President Moon Jae-In as an exception for their extraordinary international success back in 2018. Typically, only musicians who have been active for at least 15 years can be awarded cultural merits.
BTS are currently the only artists who qualify for the deferment. This resulted in backlash from the KMCA (Korea Music Content Association), which filed an official complaint to the Ministry Of National Defense, calling the amendment “unrealistic and unfair”.
A KMCA official pointed out that for a male musician to meet the criteria by 28 (the required enlistment age), he would have to “begin his K-pop career when he’s 13 years old at the latest”.
They also claimed that the law discriminated against the pop music industry, as men who establish start-ups or pursue graduate and post-graduate studies abroad are eligible to defer. It called for more realistic standards, which would allow more pop acts to qualify for deferment.