BTS will not be exempt from military service in South Korea, officials from the Korean Ministry of Defence have confirmed.
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Conscription is still mandatory in the band’s home country for men between the ages of 18 and 28. The length of their service varies depending on what area of the military they enter (I.e. Army, Marine Corps, Navy, or Air Force), with stints ranging from 18 to 22 months.
Some public figures in South Korea are able to receive exemptions from undertaking military service, such as Olympic medallists and award-winning classical musicians. However, figures at the Korean MOD have said BTS currently are not eligible.
“The Ministry of Defence is currently debating with related authorities on improving the current alternate service [programme] in place of conscription, but nothing has been decided as to when a change may take effect,” one official told The Hollywood Reporter.
BTS’ oldest member Jin will be required to enlist soon as he turns 27 (28 in Korean age) in December, although he does not have to begin his service immediately after his birthday. In previous interviews where the subject has arisen, the band have always said they plan to comply with the law and undertake their military service.
Speaking to CBS Sunday Morning earlier this year, Jin said: “As a Korean, it’s natural, and someday, when duty calls we’ll be ready to respond and do our best.”
Draft evasion is considered a crime in South Korea that is punishable with imprisonment. Conscientious objection – refusing to serve for political or religious reasons – is not currently allowed. Men with legitimate health issues or financial hardships may be absolved from service.
BigHit, the label behind BTS, has not shared how they plan to handle the group’s imminent conscription, be it to have them all serve at the same time or stagger their entry into the military. After Jin, Suga will be the next to reach enlistment age – he turns 27 in March 2020.
BTS recently took a short break from a year that has seen them continue their phenomenal achievements, including scoring a first UK Number One album with April’s ‘Map Of The Soul: Persona’ and becoming the first Korean artist to headline Wembley Stadium when they performed two sold-out shows at the venue in June.
Earlier this month, youngest member Jungkook teased a new solo track from himself. On his birthday (September 1) he thanked fans for their messages by sharing a brief clip of an unreleased song that has him singing in English.