More than two years have passed, but the controversy over BTS’s military service exemption from time to time is brought to the public every time people forget it. If only looking at recent events, the conclusion to this issue seems to be “no privilege for BTS”.
Despite public support for changing the military service law, the Ministry of Defense has also given negative answers of its own. Many netizens believe that in the end, this debate will end, but the previous opinion surveys and discussions have become meaningless. Many people wonder if the Department of Defense does all this for what when the answer can easily be decided early on!
As many people know, if BTS does not enjoy the special military service, the members will enlist in turn, starting with the eldest Jin – who will enlist in December or early next year. The public’s interest is whether the members will perform their military service spontaneously without any change or if there will be positive measures prepared in advance.
The Ministry of Defense and the National Assembly, who have to decide on the special case of BTS, frequently change positions and clearly show the perceived weight of public opinion in the country. Recently, BTS’s appointment as promotional ambassador to attract attention for the 2030 World Expo in Busan has raised the issue of the group’s military service once again.
The Ministry of National Defense and the Military Department have continuously given negative answers about granting special military service status to BTS. Defense Minister Lee Jong-seop initially said that “We cannot consider the aspect of the reduction in the number of people exempt from military service due to the sharp decrease in military resources, the value of fairness and fairness in the military service. Military service is becoming increasingly important”.
Officials’ caution to avoid the military began to subtly change since BTS was appointed as a promotional ambassador for the Busan exhibition in July. In particular, soon after, the Ministry of National Defense also conducted a public opinion survey to examine the public’s opinion on this issue.
However, there was still disagreement even when the results were announced that more than 60% agreed with special military service, while Minister Lee of the Ministry of Defense stated that the final result would not be based on that result. The Department of Defense’s heterogeneous response has escalated the controversy surrounding the issue rapidly.
Unlike PSY and Yoo Seung-jun in the past, the Ministry of Defense’s unclear attitude about BTS’s military service has nothing to do with strong political pressure. The political world does not distinguish between the ruling party and the opposition party, they regularly assert the special case of BTS.
For example, MP Ahn Byung Gil of the People’s Party affirmed that BTS’s special military service will be a symbolic turning point to change the perception of popular culture artists who have raised the status of Korea around the world and facilitated the second and third BTS to appear. MP Ahn said: “Law cannot reflect reality and become an obstacle to the growth of national industry and cultural power.” He said: “The transformation of popular culture art – the foundation of the Hallyu wave – becoming a long-term asset of public diplomacy is strengthening Korea’s competitiveness in the world.”
In 2018, the Hyundai Economic Research Institute released research results showing that the average annual economic efficiency of BTS is 4.14 trillion KRW, 26 times compared to the average revenue of small and medium enterprises. In April, the Korean Culture and Tourism Research Institute estimated the economic effect that BTS will achieve after each performance to be 620.7 billion KRW.
This tremendous economic boost is becoming the decisive indicator of whether Busan will become the host for the 2030 World Expo. Many are concerned that if the event’s promotional ambassador, BTS, does not receive special military service, Busan city’s plan to attract the world exhibition may go awry.
The Ministry of Defense is also aware of such public opinion and although it has stated that it will observe the public opinion, recently, the leaders have continuously reinforced their position. In general, the response from the Ministry of Defense is that there is no exemption from military service. This is not surprising but what is worth mentioning here is that BTS has been unduly criticized for this for a very long time.
The members all talked about their willingness to serve the country when called, while this controversy was sparked by politicians and the Ministry of Defense. More than that, it even ended the “torture of hope” for the fans in a very unpleasant way, which is no exception for BTS.