The largest boy band in the world, BTS, may or may not be exempt from South Korea’s conscription laws, according to the government.
The eldest member of BTS, Kim Seok-jin, often known as Jin, will be the first to be drafted into the military when he reaches 30 in December. Since politicians and the general public continue to hold opposing views on the matter, the public discussion over the band’s military service has raged for months.
According to former South Korean culture minister Hwang Hee, BTS’s military service “would be a national loss…[and] a cultural loss for mankind.”
The public may soon be asked for input on the government’s BTS decision.
Lee Jong-sup, the national defense minister of South Korea, has reportedly requested MPs to look into the viability of adopting a public poll. BTS’s enlistment will be decided in part by the results of the public survey, according to Lee, who also stated that his ministry would assess the band’s overall significance to the South Korean economy and national interest.
According to recent research, South Koreans are in favor of giving BTS a respite. According to the AP, a private study conducted earlier this year found that 60% of participants favored a military exemption for BTS members.
The subject of exemptions from mandatory military duty is still a contentious one as South Korea struggles with widening inequality. Many young people in South Korea today identify as members of the “dirt spoon generation,” or those with poor incomes. Nine years ago, BTS became well-known in South Korea as “dirt spoon idols” since they were signed to the small, indebted entertainment business HYBE, which is today a successful public corporation as a result of the band’s popularity.