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South Korea Considers Survey on BTS Military Service

The South Korean government are considering conducting a public survey on whether BTS should do military service.

Military service is compulsory for all South Korean males, but there have been calls to grant the members of the K-pop band exceptions.

BTS’s oldest member Jin faces enlistment as soon as December when he turns 30.

Lee Jong-sup, the South Korean defense minister, has said that he has ordered officials to implement a survey and that his ministry will also look at the band’s economic effect and the overall national interest.

Jong-sup’s ministry later clarified that officials were looking into whether a survey needed to be implemented.

By law, all able-bodied men in South Korea must serve 18-21 months in the military under a conscription system. But the country exempts athletes, musicians, and artists who win top places in international competitions because they are considered to have enhanced national prestige.

Enlistment cannot be delayed after the individual turns 30.

A poll conducted earlier in 2022 showed that around 60 percent of South Koreans were in favor of a military exemption for BTS.

Since being founded in 2013, BTS have become the most successful South Korean musicians in history, selling over 30 million records. In 2019, they became the first non-English language act to sell out Wembley Stadium on their Love Yourself world tour.

Earier this year, the group announced a temporary hiatus that caused their record label’s market value to drop by $1.7bn.

When announcing the hiatus, band member RM said: “Whenever I write lyrics and songs, it’s really important what kind of story and message I want to give out, but it was like that was gone now. I don’t know what kind of story I should tell now.”

He added: “Right now, we’ve lost our direction, and I just want to take some time to think.”

From Rolling Stone UK. Subscribe to the magazine in print and receive complimentary access to the digital edition.

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