One of the world's largest music groups, BTS, has been making music and breaking records. The group, which hails from South Korea, consists of seven members, each integral to the brand's success. It would be hard to imagine BTS without each of them, so when there were rumors that soon members would need to step aside, people panicked. So, does BTS have to join the military in South Korea? Here's the latest.
Does BTS have to join the South Korean military?
According to The New York Times, in South Korea, more than 200,000 men legally have to join military service for a minimum of 18 months. All able-bodied male citizens have to enlist into service at some point between the ages of 18 and 28.
This duty is seen as a necessity to keep their country safe. Making this a mandatory thing helps the country maintain its massive military of over 620,000 members.
In the past, special circumstances have been granted to some citizens, namely athletes and a select group of musicians. The idea behind this draft exemption is that these citizens help to enhance national prestige.
However, this special leave didn't extend to K-pop artists — including the members of BTS.
Fans were worried about this exemption, wondering if it would be extended to K-pop artist Kim Seok-jin, better known as Jin, the oldest BTS member.
He's going to turn 28 on Dec. 4, 2020 — and would have required to pause his contributions in his group (which is still soaring in popularity and releasing new music) to fulfill the draft duties.
There is no guarantee that Jin would be able to return to BTS when he finished his military run, so it could have marked the end of his music career.
As luck would have it — or rather a lot of work by lawmakers — a new law passed in South Korea will directly impact BTS. According to CNN, the South Korean parliament passed a bill allocating K-pop stars, like BTS, to defer their service the same way it's extended to athletes.
The new law now allows for the exemptions to be given to people who "excel in popular culture and art," CNN reported with details from the National Assembly. According to the revised law, the specific criteria for the special exemption would be decided through a presidential order.
To qualify for this, K-pop entertainers who wish to defer their military draft need to have received a government medal for their contribution to helping elevate or spread the country's cultural influence.
Not only does this apply to Jin, but all six other members of BTS will qualify, too, since they each received the award in 2018, according to The New York Times.
This is good news for BTS fans and Jin because he can now defer his military enrollment for two more years. And the other members can do the same when they get to the end of their 28th birthday.