Amid their ongoing success, both collectively and individually, the members of BTS have been followed by the shadow of their looming military service duties. In South Korea, it is standard for men to begin a 21-month term by their 28th birthday. Those in BTS who have already passed the age threshold have been accommodated with more time. But now, Busan mayor Park Heong-joon is considering alternative duties that would remove the prospect entirely.
“If BTS is allowed alternative military service, its members will be assigned with national duties as heavy as military service and will serve the nation in their unique capacity,” Park reportedly said, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
In this scenario, the military service equivalent would find BTS fulfilling public duties as PR ambassadors in the lead-up to Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo, for which they were already appointed last month.
Busan will compete with cities in Italy and Saudi Arabia for hosting rights which will officially begin in May 2030 under the guiding theme “Transforming Our World, Navigating Toward a Better Future,” if they are successful.
From Park’s perspective, having BTS remain at a place of prominence in the pop culture sphere would be a secret weapon no other city would have the means to compete with. His proposal was recently issued to the presidential office in hopes of securing the seven-piece pop phenomenon the same alternative service options that have previously been extended to star athletes and artists who contribute to national prestige and cultural advancement in the city.
Without the alternative, BTS member Jin would be the first to have to complete his military duties. The singer, who turns 30 in December, was granted a direct reprieve by the government when he came of age to serve because he represents a “pop-culture artist who was recommended by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism to have greatly enhanced the image of Korea both within the nation and throughout the world.”
With the hourglass running out, the fate of BTS as global superstars hangs in the balance. “I think the country sort of told me, ‘You’re doing this well, and we will give you a little bit more time,’” Jin told Rolling Stone last year. Military service, he added, is “an important duty for our country. So I feel that I will try to work as hard as I can and do the most I can until I am called.”
“I’m sure it will work out so that we can continue to see ARMY,” V added. “About military service or what will happen, we haven’t discussed it in the specifics amongst ourselves, but I’m sure it’ll work out eventually.”