BTS‘s military service has been a hot topic for years, but a final decision on the matter will be made in the near future.
In South Korea, all men are required to enlist in the military by their 28th birthday, with few exceptions. For instance, athletes who have won medals in the Olympics or Asian Games are exempt from serving, but no such exemptions exist for K-Pop stars.
In November of 2021, the National Assembly deliberated on a bill to amend the Military Service Act. If passed, the bill will allow pop culture artists who have contributed to the promotion of national prestige to represent South Korea as art and sports personnel rather than enlist in the military. The bill has temporarily been suspended,
Seong Il Jong, secretary of the People’s Power of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee, expects the final decision about BTS’s exemption to be made this month.
Currently, the GRAMMY Awards, the American Music Awards, and the Billboard Music Awards are not included in the list of achievements that allow individuals to receive military exemptions. Seong is among the lawmakers pushing for this to change.
If you top the Billboard Charts for a week, it has an economic impact of 1.6 trillion won [$1.3 million USD]. BTS topped the charts for 17 weeks. That brings in approximately 56 trillion won [$45 million USD], which is a huge contribution to our country.
— Rep. Seong Il-Jong
If the so-called “BTS Act” is passed, BTS might only have to enlist for a mandatory four weeks of basic training. According to Seong, the same is required for athletes and others who are currently eligible for military exemptions.
The South Korean public is still divided on the issue, but the scales are tipped in favor of BTS’s exemption. According to a survey conducted by Gallup Korea from April 5 to April 14, nearly 59 percent of 1,004 Koreans (aged 18 and up) support exemptions for high-achieving K-Pop artists. 33 percent are not in favor, and eight percent declined to respond.
As for BTS, the members have entrusted their agency, HYBE, with the final decision.
Our artists are entrusting the company with issues related to military service. They have repeatedly emphasized that they will respond to the call of the country. The company is monitoring the matter very carefully. We will do our best to come to a useful decision. It is true that uncertainty causes difficulties, so we hope that a conclusion will be reached as soon as possible.