It’s Been Confirmed — BTS Will Be Required to Serve in the Military

BTS has seen unprecedented success across the world since their inception as a K-pop group. Their ARMY has spread to the United States, where BTS has managed to capture the hearts and minds of tons of fans. 

However, some members of ARMY have concerns about BTS and their military service. For a while, it remained unclear whether or not the supergroup would be required to participate in the mandatory military service that South Korean citizens are expected to undergo. While rumors that a member of the group would be required to serve this year were dispelled, it has been confirmed that BTS will need to serve their military time. Here’s what we know.

BTS faced rumors of military service this year

BTS
BTS | Lester Cohen/WireImage

Chairman for the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in South Korea, Ahn Min Seok, concerned ARMY members when he suggested a BTS member may be serving in the military this year. 

“I think one of the BTS members is going into the military this year. It seems like it has been decided that they will not get any special treatment relating to military service for pop culture artists,” said Ahn Min Seok during a meeting.

Big Hit shut down the rumor, commenting, “We aren’t sure why such a story was reported, but those reports about BTS enlisting in the military this year are not true.”

While the group isn’t serving this year, they won’t shy away from their service. In a previous interview with Rolling Stone, Jin confirmed that BTS members are ready to serve. Jin said, “Nothing is set in stone, obviously, regarding military duty, but the most important thing would be [that] it’s our duty to serve and when we’re called we’ll serve in whatever capacity we can, and until that time we just perform as hard as we can and as much as we can.

Plans for possible exemption

BTS
BTS | Kevin Mazur/BBMA18/WireImage

There was a period of time where it remained unclear whether or not K-pop idols like BTS would be required to serve in the military like typical South Korean citizens. Park Yang-woo, the South Korean Minister of Culture, Sport, and Tourism, suggested that pop culture icons like BTS would not receive special treatment in the future.

“There have been many varying opinions on if pop culture artists should be able to receive special treatment for their military service, even before BTS, so we have been discussing this for a long time. But the Military Manpower Association and the Ministry of National Defense believe that special treatment in general should be reduced wherever possible,” he said.

BTS’ military obligation confirmed

BTS
BTS | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The defense ministry announced its policy on Thursday, as reported by Reuters. The ministry announced, “Exempting pop culture artists from military service even though they have made a contribution to the country’s reputation is not in line with the government’s stance to uphold justice and fairness.”

The defense ministry also mentioned that fewer than 45 South Koreans are exempt from military service every year. During a CBS interview, Jin previously said, “As a Korean, it’s natural. And someday, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best.”

According to the New York Times, Tamar Herman, who writes about K-pop for Billboard, doesn’t believe military service will reduce BTS’ star power. “There’s this idea that this might put a halt to their popularity, but their fandom is so big, I personally don’t think it will. Only time will tell,” opined Herman.