At a meeting held on November 20, the Korean National Assembly defense committee passed a bill that could potentially allow top male idols like BTS postpone their military enlistment.
Back in September, BTS made South Korean history with “Dynamite”—the first song from the country to reach no. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song, which held its no. 1 position for two weeks, had potentially major implications on the future of Korean military service.
Shortly after BTS’s Billboard win, Democratic Party representative Jeon Yong Gi drafted a revision to the Military Service Act, proposing that exceptional artists in pop culture—such as BTS—should be granted the right to defer their military duties until the age of 30. According to the proposed revision, this exception should be made on the grounds that such artists have helped elevate South Korea’s reputation around the world.
As of right now, all South Korean men between 18 and 28 are expected to serve in the military for two years unless they’re physically unable to do so. BTS’s Jin is set to turn 28 next month (though his Korean age is 29). Until now, military service exceptions have only been granted to exceptional athletes and classical musicians.
Back in September, Minister of National Defense Seo Wook responded favorably to the revision. In October, the Military Manpower Administration also expressed their approval of the proposal. That said, some did raise concerns that the amendment could be considered unfair, particularly as the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism would get the final say on who is deemed exceptional.
However, despite the objections, the National Assembly’s defense committee has now given preliminary approval to the bill. While it’s not yet set in stone, it only needs to pass the Korean parliament’s plenary session to become law.
The BTS members will be able to defer their enlistments until the age of 30 if this bill is approved through a plenary session and a related enforcement decree is also revised.
— Korean lawmaker
Meanwhile, Jin remains positive about his duties as a Korean citizen. During a press conference for BTS’s new album BE today, the group’s eldest member reiterated that he sees military enlistment as an inevitable part of being a South Korean man.
As I’ve always said, as soon as there’s a call from the military, I will enlist. The members have all talked about this, and we all intend to do the same.