BTS members’ military service can be deferred after bill passes targeting K-pop stars who represent South Korea globally


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South Korea’s National Assembly passed a bill on Tuesday that will allow male K-pop stars such as the members of BTS to defer their mandatory service in the country’s military.
Almost all able-bodied South Korean men must start roughly two years of military service around the time of their 28th birthday. But the bill revising the Military Service Act will enable those who have represented the country internationally and gained global acclaim to delay enlisting until the age of 30 to help boost the country’s reputation through their work.
The revision was proposed after BTS’ single Dynamite, released in August, went to No 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The issue recently came to a head in both politics and South Korean public discourse as BTS member Jin is now 28 and would have had to enlist by the end of the year if the Military Service Act was not revised. All seven BTS members are expected to be covered by the revision.

It is not known whether the impact of the coronavirus was a factor in the bill being passed. Live K-pop concerts have come to a halt this year and, if Jin was to enlist as expected, BTS would have been unable to perform and tour as a combined septet again for some time.
Athletes and classical artists have long been able to earn exemptions from military service for gaining recognition in international events or competitions, but pop culture artists weren’t previously included.
Many male K-pop stars’ careers come to an end or see major setbacks after they enlist. Because of the service requirements, many K-pop companies launch artists when they are in their teens to ensure they enjoy a career as long as possible before enlisting. In the past, some artists’ careers imploded after they tried workarounds to avoid enlisting.
BTS made history on Tuesday as the first Korean outfit to debut a predominantly non-English song at No 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
This article originally appeared on the South China Morning Post (www.scmp.com), the leading news media reporting on China and Asia.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
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