(CTN NEWS) – YEONCHEON – The oldest member of the K-pop Star BTS, Jin, started his 18-month military duty on Tuesday at a frontline boot camp in South Korea as fans gathered outside to bid their idol farewell.
The world’s biggest boy band will likely take a break for a few years as six additional younger BTS members will enlist in the military in the upcoming years.
Their enlistments have sparked a heated local discussion over whether it’s time to change the nation’s conscription system to include well-known singers like BTS as exemptions or whether to not offer such privileges to anyone.
When it came to giving BTS members exemptions, M.P.s clashed in Parliament, and surveys revealed widely divergent public sentiments.
As a result, its management agency announced in October that all members would fulfill their mandatory military obligations.
Following their service commitment, Big Hit Music stated that both the company and the members of BTS “are looking forward to agreeing to meet as a group again around 2025.”
The Defense Ministry reported that Jin, who turned 30 earlier this month, joined other new conscript soldiers reporting to the boot camp at Yeoncheon.
A town close to the volatile border with North Korea, for 5 weeks of basic military training.
He and the other conscripts would be assigned to army units nationwide after the training, which included rifle shooting, grenade throwing, and marching drills.
A large group of journalists and about 20 to 30 supporters, some holding Jin’s photographs, gathered close to the camp. But without him exiting the truck, Jin entered the camp.
Later, images of Jin with other members were shared on the BTS official Twitter account with the caption, “Our bro! Enjoy your service safely! I adore you.
Members may be seen hugging Jin’s shaved head in one picture.
Before Jin entered the camp, Mandy Lee from Hong Kong remarked, “I want to wait (for) Jin and see him go into the military and wish him all the best.”
“It’s tricky. I am sad.” “I would like to be happy for him. Mixed emotions. He is required to serve his nation.” Angelina from Indonesia remarked.
Given Jin’s enormous popularity, a tiny turnout of a few dozen fans might be considered.
However, to avoid any problems brought on by crowding, Jin and his management company had already requested fans not to visit the spot and informed them there would be no special event featuring the singer.
To preserve order and prevent mishaps, authorities mobilized 300 police officers, military, and emergency personnel.
Strict security measures were anticipated because South Korea is still recovering from the horrific Halloween crash in Seoul in October that left 158 people dead.
It’s time for a curtain call, Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, stated earlier on Tuesday in the online fan community Weverse.
On Sunday, he uploaded a photo of himself sporting a military buzz cut along with the caption, “Ha ha ha. More adorable than I had anticipated.”
All physically fit South Korean men are required by law to enlist in the military for 18 to 21 months as part of a conscription system to counter North Korean threats.
Athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers, however, are given specific exemptions under the law if they have won top awards in competitions and raised the status of their country.
Even if they achieve worldwide renown and win significant international prizes, K-pop stars and other entertainers do not receive these rewards.
Because the law forbids most males from further delaying their military service once they age 30, Jin had to prepare for an imminent recruitment.
According to a pop culture pundit named Jung Duk-Hyun, “people in the pop culture sector endure a few obstacles and unfairness, compared with those in the pure art sector or athletics.”
“I wonder if it needs to be discussed constantly because this will remain a contentious issue.”
In South Korea, where conscription forces young men to postpone their education or jobs, exemptions or evading obligations are a very controversial topic.
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup stated that it would be “ideal” for BTS members to carry out their military obligations to ensure fairness in the nation’s armed forces.
The military’s diminishing recruitment pool is “a very severe” issue given the nation’s declining reproduction rate, according to Chun In-bum, a retired lieutenant general who oversaw South Korea’s special forces.
He said the government must take action to rescind any exemptions.
BTS was founded in 2013 with a legion of worldwide fans who go by the name “Army.” The group includes R.M., Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, the youngest member at 25.
With the release of “Dynamite,” the band’s first entirely English song in 2020, which made BTS the first K-pop act to top Billboard’s Hot 100, the group increased their appeal in the West.
The group was even invited to speak at U.N. gatherings after playing to packed houses in arenas worldwide.
— KBIZoom (@kbizoom) December 9, 2022
Big Hit Music’s parent business, Hybe Corp., said in October that each band member would prioritize personal projects while still focusing on their military duty commitments.
Coldplay and Jin collaborated on the song “The Astronaut,” released in October.
The commentator, Jung, suggested that after years of collaboration, solo ventures might allow BTS members the much-needed time to grow as individuals.
But according to K-pop critic Cha Woo-jin, it’s uncertain whether BTS will continue to be as famous when they reunite after completing their military service in a few years.
Defense Minister Lee said in August that serving BTS members will likely be permitted to continue their practices and go abroad with other BTS members.
Cha says enlisting BTS members won’t significantly impact K-global pop’s popularity because they “appear to represent K-pop but aren’t everything of K-pop.”
Jung concurred, predicting more success for other K-pop acts like BLACKPINK, Stray Kids, and aespa.
RELATED CTN NEWS: