Korean government working to help BTS postpone their military enlistment

Published September 5, 2020, 9:44 AM

by Jonathan Hicap

BTS (Twitter)

The Korean government and politicians are working together to help K-pop superstars BTS postpone their military service until age 30. 

This came after BTS topped the Billboard Hot 100 on Sept. 1 through their new single “Dynamite,” earning the distinction of being the first Korean artist to grab the No. 1 spot on the chart. 

Before BTS, Korean rapper Psy’s viral song “Gangnam Style” earned the highest spot at No. 2 on the chart in 2012. 

The proposal is to revise South Korea’s Military Service Act to allow outstanding pop culture artists such as BTS to delay their military enlistment until age 30. Exempting them from military service will not be done. 

“Deferring military service is a totally different issue from granting exemptions. We need to provide the option to postpone enlistment for those in other fields whose careers flourish in their 20s,” said Proportional Rep. Jeon Yong-gi of the ruling Democratic Party, who proposed a bill regarding military service postponement, according to the Korea Times. 

The granting of military service postponement will apply to those who have been active in their field for at least three years, have made outstanding contributions to raise South Korea’s status and duly acknowledged by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST). 

In October 2018, the Korean government bestowed cultural medals on BTS for helping spread Korean culture around the world. The seven members received the Hwagwan (Flower Crown) Order of Cultural Merit medal from the MCST, becoming the youngest recipients of the award. 

Under the current rule, all able-bodied Korean men should enlist by age 28. Jin, the oldest member of BTS, is slated to enlist when he turns 28 in December. 

In a filing with the Financial Services Commission on Sept. 2, Big Hit Entertainment said that Jin will be able to postpone his enlistment until 2021. 

“BTS is composed of members born in 1992 to 1997, and are all eligible for their mandatory active-duty service. We believe that the postponement of Jin’s enlistment will be possible until the end of 2021, under the revised Military Service Act,” the company said, SBS News reported. 

This is because Jin is currently enrolled in graduate school at Hanyang Cyber University since 2017 and this will allow him to postpone his enlistment until age 29.  

Suga, RM and J-Hope also started their graduate school program in the university in March 2019 while Jimin and V were scheduled to enroll this month. 

Culture Minister Park Yang-woo said the revision of the Military Service Act will be completed by the end of the year. 

“BTS and ‘Parasite’ have made enormous contributions to the country, both in terms of cultural and economic benefits. We are currently finalizing details, and defining criteria that will allow BTS members to delay their enlistment until the age of 30. We plan to revise the law by the end of this year. However, we have no plans to grant exemptions,” the minister said. 

Last November, the MCST shot down the idea that BTS should be granted exemption from military service because of their contributions to uplifting Korean culture.  

“In the case of BTS, I personally wish I could allow exemptions for them under certain standards, but the Military Manpower Administration and the Ministry of National Defense (in charge of conscription) are inclined to downsize the overall scope (of exemption),” Minister Park said then, Yonhap News reported. 

On Sept. 4, an individual filed a petition on the website of the office of President Moon Jae-in, urging him to open the way for BTS to be exempted from military service. The petition stated the reasons why BTS should be exempted including their Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard 200 feats; and their immense popularity, achievements and contributions

 
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