BTS' Military Future Is Now Clearly Defined

BTS is inarguably the world's biggest boy band but as it turns out, there may be a limit to the privileges that comes with. For years now, there has been talk of whether or not the group's members should be allowed an exemption from South Korea's military conscription. The topic has been a hotly debated one with strong arguments on both sides. As Korea Times reported in September 2022, a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea, Rep. Kim Young-bae, argued that globally successful pop stars, like BTS, should be given an alternative to military service. That's because, according to Rep. Young-bae, "Korean pop celebrities active in the international field make unimaginable economic and social contributions." However, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup countered, per Korea JoongAng Daily, that offering an exemption to BTS would raise questions of fairness.

On their end, the band has kept mum on the topic, although, back in June 2022, they did announce they were taking an extended break to analyze the future of their music. At the time, a rep told Rolling Stone, "They are not on hiatus but will take time to explore some solo projects at this time and remain active in various different formats." Now, it seems there may have been more to the decision than mere artistic differences and, as member Jin is about to turn 30 (the cutoff age for conscription), we finally know what all seven members plan to do when it comes to their military futures.

Will BTS enlist in South Korea's military?

The speculation is over: BTS plans to enlist in South Korea's military and will not be seeking an exemption to the country's strict conscription laws. The band's management, BIGHIT MUSIC, confirmed the news on Twitter on October 17, 2022 as it announced that all seven members would complete their mandatory service as soon as possible. The label noted that while the band is on a break and its members are pursuing solo projects, "It's the perfect time and the members of BTS are honored to serve." BIGHIT also revealed that Jin, who will turn 30 on December 4, 2022, "will initiate the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October." The announcement went on to applaud the group for its decision to serve its country before ending on a hopeful note for fans. "Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment," the statement assured.

As Forbes explains, military service is mandatory in South Korea for all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 to 35. The minimum length of service depends on which branch of the military one joins, starting with 18 months for the army, 20 months for the navy, and 21 months for the air force. Dodging service can result in jail time, per Al Jazeera, and only a very select few athletes and artists have ever been granted an exemption, per The Guardian.