All able-bodied South Korean men must enlist by the age of 28 and serve about two years in the country's military. There are very few exceptions to that rule. Men who excel in sports or the arts on an international level (think soccer players who won the World Cup, or internationally lauded pianists and ballet dancers) are, on rare occasions, granted exemptions. However, Korean celebrities are notably absent from exemption considerations. Conversations surrounding Korean celebrities' impending enlistments are inevitable, but BTS' meteoric rise to international superstardom has people debating whether they should be exempt from enlisting altogether. While the members have made it clear they'll be ready to serve when the time comes, Big Hit's latest update delves into when BTS' Jin will enlist.
BTS' Jin turns 28 in December, so talk about his enlistment has been circulating more than ever in recent months. There is a lot of debate surrounding whether BTS should be waived from serving due to the group breaking barriers in the music industry as Korean artists. However, in November 2019, South Korea's Culture Minister Park Yang-woo and the South Korean Military Manpower Administration reaffirmed K-Pop stars could not be exempt.
But, since November, BTS has broken even more boundaries, becoming the first all-Korean group to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Achieving the feat amid all the turmoil the coronavirus pandemic has caused globally has renewed the military exemption debate.
Now, it seems the Korean government is considering the possibility of allowing certain celebrities to postpone enlistment. According to a JoongAng Ilbo report, on Sept. 1, Korean government officials discussed plans to introduce an amendment to the Military Service Act to allow people who have made remarkable contributions to national prestige in the field of pop culture and arts to postpone enlisting until they're 30. Elite Daily reached out to the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism for comment on the report, but did not immediately hear back.
While BTS was reportedly not mentioned by name in these discussions, a day later, Big Hit shared a statement for their initial public offering (IPO) ahead of their debut on the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) in October. Apart from revealing BTS now own millions of dollars worth of shares in the company, the document speculated Jin would be able to postpone his enlistment.
"BTS consists of members born between 1992 and 1997 who are required to enlist as active-duty soldiers. It has been assessed that it will be possible for the oldest member Kim Seok Jin to delay his enlistment until the end of 2021, based on the military service law," the company said, according to a translation by Soompi.
Jin previously addressed his enlistment during an April 2019 interview with CBS Sunday Morning, revealing he's more than willing to serve his country whenever he's called upon. "As a Korean, it’s natural, and someday, when duty calls, we will be ready to respond and do our best," Jin said.
Big Hit's CEO Bang Si-Hyuk agrees. "The company believes military service is a duty. We will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties," Si-Hyuk explained in an October 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
As Jin said, he will serve when the time comes, and fans will be supportive whenever that is.