South Korea passes a law allowing BTS to postpone mandatory military service

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An amendment has been approved by South Korea’s parliament authorizing chart-topping and Grammy-nominated K-pop artists like BTS to delay their compulsory military service until the age of 30.

As part of the country’s efforts to guard against North Korea, all able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 must serve in the military for around two years.

Two of the group’s members, Jin and Suga, will soon turn 28 and have been threatened. According to the updated Military Service Act, if they do not have an exceptional excuse, a pop culture artist who was recommended by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism to have significantly enhanced the reputation of Korea both within the nation and throughout the world will be able to delay their military service until the age of 30.

The Military Service Act provided deferral exemptions only to athletes, classical musicians, and those who participated in Ph.D. programs abroad until reform.

The full name of all seven BTS members is Bangtan Sonyeondan (Bulletproof Boy Scouts) or Beyond the Scene as their English brand, fulfilling the requirement when the medal was awarded in 2018. The group’s followers, known as the BTS Force, welcomed the legal reform on social media, calling it a gift to Jin ahead of his December 4 birthday.

Since launching in 2013, alongside lyrics and social campaigns aimed at inspiring young people, BTS has sparked the global K-pop craze with catchy, optimistic songs.

It recently notched a first-ever No 1 hit single with the song Dynamite on the US Billboard charts and bagged an unparalleled Grammy nomination as a K-pop band. His new album, Life Goes On, was also the first Korean song ever to land on the Billboard’s main singles chart at No. 1.

Big Hit Entertainment, the management of BTS did not respond to requests for comment on the legislative reform, but Jin and other members of the band have previously said they would carry out their duties as needed.

“It’s natural, as a Korean. And we’ll be able to respond and do our best someday when duty calls,’ Jin was quoted as saying in 2019.

In South Korea, military service is a controversial topic.

Local news outlet E-Today reported a survey last month showing some 53 percent of respondents favored special care for BTS, while 47 percent opposed it.

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