BTS Members to Join South Korean Military for Mandatory Service

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The members of BTS have announced they will serve in the South Korean military, fulfilling an obligation for healthy men in the country. The announcement, via management company Big Hit Music, ends years of speculation over whether the K-pop sensations should be exempted, due to their status as revered artists, internationally adored celebrities, and lucrative cultural assets. The label said BTS plan to reconvene “around 2025, following their service commitment.”

During their individual service periods, the members may pursue solo careers; Jin, who announced a solo single yesterday, will enlist later this month, once his release campaign concludes. Park Jiwon, CEO of Big Hit parent company Hybe, said in a letter to shareholders, “Individual activities for several of the members are planned into the first half of 2023, and we have secured content in advance, which will enable BTS to continue their engagement with fans for the foreseeable future,” according to The Associated Press.

The Korean public has been divided over whether the government should force BTS to enlist. The mandatory service, of 18-21 months, has applied to all healthy men since 2013, when the government scrapped a loophole that allowed entertainment figures to produce promotional material for the military, in lieu of combat service. BTS members will receive five weeks of combat training before being assigned to their units, just like other South Korean men, The AP reports, citing officials at the Military Manpower Administration.

Earlier this year, BTS appeared to go on hiatus, but a representative said the band would “remain active in various different formats” while its members explored solo careers. Big Hit had announced in December 2021 that BTS were taking an “official extended period of rest.”

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