No military service exemptions for BTS: reform body officials

K-pop stars such as BTS will not be exempted from compulsory military service.

Officials at the government’s military system reform body said Sunday that they have agreed not to extend an existing exemption.

An official announcement is expected to be made at the end of this month.

Prize winners of certain contests, mostly Western classical and Korean traditional music events, as well as athletes who win any of Olympic medals or Asian Games gold medals can be exempted from the service (about two years).

The fairness of the system ― backed by a law introduced in 1973 ― was questioned last year after BTS’ global success. Some lawmakers, including Ha Tae-keung of the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party, called for reform, saying that pop artists also deserved the privilege.

Some noted athletes such as Lee Kang-in, who led Korea to an historic runner-up finish at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup, could also be considered.

If the system remains the same or changes very little, which seems likely, Jin, 26, the oldest member of BTS, is expected to begin military duty soon. In an interview with “CBS Sunday Morning” in April, he said he would respond to the duty and do his best when the time came.


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