Since its debut in 2013, K-pop ensemble BTS has upended the entertainment industry. However, the mandatory military duty of BTS members has been a recurrent topic of discussion in South Korea, as it has been with many other celebrities there.
The K-pop group’s seven members, RM, Suga, Jin, J-Hope, Jimin, Jungkook, and V, were brought together by Big Hit Entertainment’s founder, Bang Si-hyuk, in 2010. (now Hybe). The group was formerly known as Bulletproof Boy Scouts before changing its name to Bangtan Boys and eventually earning the name BTS.
BTS was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit by the South Korean government in 2018 in recognition of their enormous influence on the world stage. Consequently, the group became the youngest holder of the honor.
The South Korean government passed a bill in December 2020 extending the necessary military service age for pop idols and other musicians to 30 years in consideration of the BTS’s contribution to the prestige of the country. In South Korea, a conscription system has been implemented that mandates that every physically capable man serve in the military for 18 to 21 months. to counter threats from rival North Korea. However, because they are seen as having greater national pride, the nation grants exemptions to sports, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers who place first in particular competitions. Those exempt are discharged from the military after completing basic training, which lasts for three weeks. But they must put in 544 hours of volunteer work and service for 34 months in their particular fields of professional endeavor. However, they will miss their on-stage performances, their audiences, their familiar environments, as well as their crew and friends, as a result of this training.