Jin says all BTS members to serve in military; group’s enlistment deferral OK’d by lawmakers

Published November 22, 2020, 1:48 PM

by Jonathan Hicap

K-pop superstars BTS member Jin reiterated that all of them in the group will fulfill their military service when the time comes.

He made the statement on Nov. 20, the same day when Korean lawmakers completed another important step that will eventually allow BTS to delay their military enlistment up to 30 years old.

During the press conference for BTS’ new album “BE,” Jin, the oldest member of the group, was asked by Korean media regarding military service.

“As a Korean youth, military service is a natural duty that, as we have always stated, we’re ready to oblige whenever the country calls upon us. We actually talk about this a lot, but all of us are planning to serve in the military [when the time comes],” the 28-year-old singer said, the Korea JoongAng Daily reported.

The calls to grant BTS privileges regarding military service grew after they topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart last September. Proposals include exempting them from military service and allowing them to postpone their enlistment.

Military service exemption was ruled out but Korean lawmakers and government agencies have been working to craft a law to grant outstanding pop culture artists like BTS the privilege to defer their military service until they are 30. Currently, all able-bodied Korean male are required to enlist by age 18 and 28 at the latest.

During a plenary meeting on Nov. 20, the National Assembly’s Defense Committee approved an amendment to Korea’s Military Service Act, the law the governs conscription. It aims to amend Article 60 of the act pertaining to “postponement of draft physical examination and enlistment in military.”

Currently, the Article provides that “the director of a regional military manpower office may postpone the conscription or call-up of a person who has undergone a draft physical examination” for 1. A student who attends a high school or higher; 2. A person who is taking a prescribed course at a training institute; 3. An outstanding athlete to enhance the national prestige,” based on a translation by the Korea Legislation Research Institute.

If the bill passes the Legislation and Judiciary Committee and plenary session, and the revision of the enforcement decree is completed, it is expected that BTS members will be able to delay their military service until age 30.

Jin, for example, is able to postpone his enlistment until 2021 as he is currently enrolled in graduate school at Hanyang Cyber University, Big Hit Entertainment previously stated. If the current bill becomes a law, Jin will be able to work until 2022.

Among the criteria being studied are that pop culture artists should be active in their field for at least three years, have made outstanding contributions to raise South Korea’s status and they are duly recommended by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST).

Besides topping Billboard charts, winning domestic and international awards and maintaining their global popularity, BTS are recipients of the Korean government’s Hwagwan (Flower Crown) Order of Cultural Merit bestowed in October 2018 in recognition for their contribution to spreading hallyu, or Korean Wave, around the world.

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) previously stated that military service exemption for BTS was not possible but will consider allowing them to postpone their enlistment.

Culture Minister Park Yang-woo earlier showed his support for the plan to defer BTS’ military service until age 30.
“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,” he said, the Korea Times reported.