BTS member Jin has officially enlisted for his compulsory military service.
Today (December 13), the 30-year-old became the first member of the boyband to begin his military service after entering a boot camp in Yeon-cheon, South Korea. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied male citizens must serve a military term of 18-21 months.
Men are usually required to enlist by the age of 28, though the Order of Cultural Merit awarded to BTS by former president Moon Jae-In in 2018 allows the seven members of the boyband to enlist at 30 instead.
In the weeks prior to Jin’s enlistment, both the idol and his agency asked fans multiple times to refrain from visiting the boot camp site during his military entrance ceremony. “Please note that we will not be holding any kind of official event on the day of his recruitment,” said the agency, adding that the event “is a time to be observed by military personnel and their families only”.
Nevertheless, police officers in Yeon-cheon prepared for Jin’s arrival at the military base by setting up several road closures and deploying an ambulance on-site in case of overcrowding.
According to Business Daily, Jin entered the training centre at around 1PM KST in an unmarked vehicle without stopping to greet press or fans (as his label Big Hit Music said he would). Vehicles reportedly carrying his six bandmates followed soon after, suggesting that the rest of BTS attended Jin’s entrance ceremony.
BTS later took to Twitter to send Jin their well wishes, sharing photos taken earlier that day. “Our hyung!! Come back safely!! Love you,” the boyband wrote, using an informal Korean honorific to their eldest member.
우리 형 !! 잘 다녀와요!! 💜러뷰💜 pic.twitter.com/ZP6yryv2qe
— 방탄소년단 (@BTS_twt) December 13, 2022
According to OSEN, there are some 200 soldiers in this batch of enlistees. It also reported that a banner reading “Welcome to the enlistment of Kim Seok-jin and all soldiers” was put up – presumably by fans – en-route to the base. Only a small number of fans gathered at the location, reported Associated Press.
Two nights ago (December 11), Jin took to fan community site Weverse for a light-hearted reveal of his new buzzcut in a selfie. “It’s cuter than I expected,” wrote the idol in a laugh-filled caption.
Jin will now spend five weeks in basic military training at the Yeon-cheon base. Following this, the idol will be assigned a role as an active duty soldier in the army, where he will be expected to serve for one year and six months. This means that Jin will likely return from duty around mid-2024.
According to an October 17 statement from Big Hit Music, the remaining members of BTS will also carry out their military service according to their individual plans. It added that “both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment”.
This suggests that some of BTS’ younger members may be enlisting sooner than expected, as Jimin and V are technically only required to enlist by 2025 and youngest member Jungkook by 2027. The next member to enlist will likely be rapper Suga, who turns 30 in March 2023.
In the months leading up to Big Hit Music’s October statement, South Korean politicians had been embroiled in months-long debate about whether the boyband could be granted exemptions or special allowances regarding their military service. The day after Big Hit Music confirmed that BTS would fulfil their military duties, the South Korean defence ministry said the group would still be able to participate in “national-level” events during their enlistment.
Prior to his enlistment, Jin made his solo debut with his single ‘The Astronaut‘, which he wrote in collaboration with Coldplay. The track was among several solo releases by BTS members this year, which also include J-hope and RM‘s respective debut studio records ‘Jack in The Box‘ and ‘Indigo‘.