BTS fans are calling for the K-Pop group to be exempt from mandatory military service in South Korea.
All able-bodied males aged between 18 and 28 are legally required to serve in the military for around two years as part of the country’s defence policy against North Korea.
The eldest BTS member, Jin, turned 27 last December and must therefore sign up for military service by the end of 2021. His bandmates – RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook – are aged between 23 and 27, and will reach the age of conscription over the next few years.
Fans and some politicians in South Korea are now claiming that the band have already done enough for their country, having become one of the biggest acts in the world since their formation in 2010.
“Not everyone has to take up a rifle to serve the country,” Noh Woong-rae, a senior member of the ruling Democratic Party, said on Monday (October 5) via Sky News.
High profile sporting figures such as Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min have previously been granted exemptions by South Korea (although Son completed a period of military service earlier this year), as have a number of classical musicians including pianist Seong-Jin cho. However, there have been no exemptions granted for any K-Pop artists as of yet.
Democratic Party member Jeon Yong-gi proposed last month for a revision of the law which would mean K-Pop figures could delay their service until the age of 30, reasoning that the current law would negatively impact their careers.
“For the sake of the fairness we are not talking about exempting them from their duty, but pop musicians and artists like BTS – their careers can blossom in their twenties,” he explained.
“We cannot let military duty block their way at the height of their careers.”
According to a survey by Kuki News, 31.3% of South Korean respondents thought BTS should not be required to carry out military service, while 28.6% said it should be delayed. The survey found that 30.5% supported normal service for the band.
Jin said at a press conference earlier this that he would “respond any time” as he believes military service to be “the natural duty”.
Meanwhile, BTS are up for five awards at this year’s MTV EMAs: Best Song (‘Dynamite’), Best Pop, Best Group, Biggest Fans, and Best Virtual Live. The 2020 ceremony will take place on November 8.