BTS‘s proposed exemption from mandatory military service could pave the way for other K-Pop groups, if granted.
All able-bodied Korean men are required to enlist in active duty for up to two years, but there are some exceptions for individuals with outstanding achievements. Award-winning classical musicians, Olympic medalists, and gold medalists at the Asian Games are all eligible for exemptions.
Under the current law, K-Pop stars can not be exempt from military service, but BTS could potentially change that. Many are calling for BTS’s exemption, citing their unprecedented global success and outstanding work as cultural ambassadors for South Korea.
Last year, the Defense Ministry reaffirmed its no exception policy for K-Pop artists. Since then, some government officials have proposed amendments to the conscription law that would potentially allow K-Pop stars to be eligible.
Should the public have a say in BTS’s military exemptions? According to Defense Minister nominee Suh Wook, the answer is yes. On Monday, Suh Wook said that the Defense Ministry should consult with the public before making their decision. If the ministry agrees, and the public is largely in favor of BTS’s exemption, public opinion could potentially sway the outcome.
BTS’s oldest member, Jin, will be turning 28 at the end of 2020, but his enlistment could potentially be delayed until the end of next year.