While some stars have tried to avoid military service in the past, others were so committed to serving the country that they decided to give up their overseas residence. Here are five idols and actors who handed back their U.S. Green Cards so they could enlist in the South Korean military.
1. Taecyeon (2PM)
2PM’s Taecyeon was born in South Korea, but his family moved to Boston, Massachusetts in the United States when he was around 10 years old. He stayed there for seven years, enjoying permanent resident status until he returned to Korea at 17 years old to join JYP Entertainment.
While Taecyeon must have had close ties to the States after growing up there, he actually decided to give up his permanent residence card in 2010 so he could enlist in the Korean military.
The 2PM star was so determined to complete his military service, when he was deemed physically unfit to serve, he underwent surgery just so he’d be healthy enough to enlist as an active-duty soldier.
2. Park Eun Seok
Rising to fame on SBS‘s The Penthouse: War in Life, actor Park Eun Seok (who plays Logan Lee) spent most of his life in the United States. Moving there at age seven, he didn’t return to South Korea until he was in his 20s.
Park had ambitions of becoming an actor in his home country, but there was one problem: he couldn’t speak Korean. His solution? Join the military. During his two years of service, the actor says his Korean improved significantly, as did his understanding of Korean culture.
Singer Bernard Park, also known as NakJoon, was born and raised in the United States. Hailing from Georgia, he remained there all the way up to his college years. Then, after making it onto K-Pop Star‘s third season, he returned to South Korea at the age of 21.
Despite being a U.S. citizen, NakJoon decided he wanted to enlist in the military. In December 2018, it was announced that he’d given up his U.S. citizenship and would be serving as an active duty soldier.
4. Yeon Jung Hoon
Best known for his time on Top Gear Korea and K-Dramas like East of Eden, Yeon Jung Hoon was born in South Korea. However, when he was a teenager, his parents sent him to live with his aunt in the United States. There, he studied until his first year of college.
After a financial crisis in South Korea, Yeon Jung Hoon returned to his birth country and eventually picked up acting. Though he still retained his U.S. green card for several years, he later decided to give it up so he could enlist in the military.
5. Andy (Shinhwa)
First generation K-Pop star Andy was born in South Korea and later raised in Los Angeles, California. After returning to Seoul as a high schooler and begging his parents to support his dream, Andy debuted in Shinhwa.
Like the others on this list, Andy too decided to give up his permanent residence in the U.S. so he could enlist. At first, Andy’s foreign school graduation reportedly wasn’t recognized by the Korean government, so he had some trouble joining the military. However, after completing his GED, he was able to serve as an active duty soldier.