The members of BTS might be heading to the military soon. For those who don’t know, nearly every able-bodied South Korean male from ages 18 to 35 must perform at least 21 months of military service. They are required to register before turning 28. On Tuesday, November 19, government officials from South Korea confirmed that the seven-member boyband would not be exempt from fulfilling their military duties, according to USA Today.
“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 are inclined to downsize the overall scope [of exemption],” Culture Minister Park Yang-woo said.
This announcement came just after the BTS Army pleaded on social media for South Korea to give the band’s members a military service waiver so they didn’t have to serve. Other supporters even created a Change.org petition, which has over 32,000 signatures, to get all the members enlist to the same military camp at the same time so they could complete their service together.
The Culture Minister explained that, despite the band’s popularity internationally, the waiver on exemption would not include K-pop stars, but only award-winning athletes and classical musicians who have represented Korea on a national scale.
“Unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the criteria of the selection in the popular culture and arts fields, which makes it difficult to institutionalize [a waiver system],” the minister also said.
In October, during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Bang Si-Hyuk — who runs BTS’ company Big Hit Entertainment — revealed that the band would most definitely complete their military service.
“The company believes military service is a duty, and we will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties,” he said.
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