HYBE CCO Says BTS Are Waiting for Government Ruling on Military Exemption

BTS members pose on the red carpet of the 64th Annual Grammy Awards in Las Vegas, NV.
V, Suga, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Jimin, and J-Hope of BTS | Lester Cohen via Getty Images for The Recording Academy

The seven members of K-Pop group BTS are currently waiting for a government ruling on whether or not they will have to enlist in the military. In South Korea, all men must serve at least 18 months in the military. 

All Korean men must enlist by age 28. While many citizens do it at the age of 18 or in their early 20s, K-pop idols often defer until 28 because their career gets interrupted by military service. BTS has already received a deferment until 30, but they may not have to enlist at all. 

Will BTS be exempt from serving in the military?

A hot topic in K-pop is whether or not global superstars BTS will have to enlist for mandatory military service. If they get an exemption, RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook will be the first K-pop idols ever not to serve. 

However, the government does give exceptions to entertainers like some violinists, pianists, and ballet performers. Also, athletes who have won medals in the Olympics, or a gold medal in the Asian Games, are exempted from active duty. 

During a press conference for Permission to Dance On Stage – Las Vegas, HYBE CCO Lee Jin Hyung directly addressed the issue. (HYBE is the parent company of BTS’ label, Big Hit Music.)

“It’s true that we are wary of speaking about this matter because we know how important the issue of military service is in Korea.” He continued, “We hope that a decision will be reached on the amendment to the Military Service Act as soon as possible.”

In Dec. 2020, the Korean government passed the “BTS military service amendment.”

According to Soompi, “the law allows artists who receive the recommendation of the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to postpone their mandatory service until they turn 30 years old by international reckoning.”

The oldest member of BTS, Jin, would be actively serving now had this amendment not passed.

BTS leaving the matter of enlistment to their company

If something doesn’t change, Jin will have to enlist by the end of 2022. However, some members of the National Assembly have proposed a bill that would exempt male artists like BTS, who have made significant contributions to the national interest from their military duty. The South Korean legislature has not reached a consensus on the bill.

Lee Jin Hyung says the members are willing to go. “The BTS members have currently left the matter of their military service in the hands of the company.”

“BTS has already conveyed the message multiple times that they will accept the call of duty when the nation calls them, and they have not changed that opinion.” 

He continued, “The company told BTS that after the new amendment to the Military Service Act was proposed, we were wary of making a decision in regards to their military service, and the BTS members maturely accepted this and left the matter in the hands of the company.”

Waiting on a ruling makes planning future music and tours more difficult for the K-pop group

While the members of BTS wait to find out if they will be exempt from military service, the company has to plan for new music and touring. Not knowing which members will or will not be present creates anxiety.

“To put it precisely, the policy on military service is changing, and it’s true that the BTS members are having a hard time because it’s difficult for them to predict the timing of their military service. 

“Since it’s difficult for them to make plans, both the BTS members and the company are currently keeping a close eye on the proposed amendment.”

He continued, “Ultimately, we plan to do our utmost so that a decision can be reached that is beneficial to both our society and BTS,” he continued.”

HYBE hopes the National Assembly will have an answer soon

HYBE hopes the issue of enlistment will be quickly resolved.

“As the matter of BTS’s military service is something that the entire world is interested in, it appears that the debate over the issue is nearing an end both within society and within the National Assembly, so we hope that the issue will be resolved within this current National Assembly.”

Lee Jin Hyung put pressure on the National assembly with his ending comments.

“If the issue passes on to the next National Assembly, the debate will continue without any promises,” He reiterated, “the uncertainty over BTS’s military service is making things difficult, we hope that the National Assembly will reach a decision as soon as possible.”


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