The decision comes after the country’s military had signaled that it wanted to conscript members of the K-pop supergroup for mandatory service.
The members of K-pop band BTS will serve their mandatory military duties under South Korean law, their management company said Monday, effectively ending a debate on exempting them because of their artistic accomplishments.
Big Hit Music said the band’s oldest member, Jin, will revoke his request to delay his conscription at the end of the month and undertake the required conscription steps. The six other members also plan to serve in the military, according to the company’s notice to financial regulators, which it described as management-related information that could possibly affect investment decisions.
Big Hit issued another statement on Twitter, saying the company and BTS members are “looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment.”
No further information on the timing of their service was given. The band members performed together in Busan over the weekend in support of the city’s EXPO bid, which will be their last concert as a group until they finish serving in the military, according to their label.
“Each BTS member for the time being will focus on their individual activities based on their plans to serve in the military,” Hybe Corp., the parent company of Big Hit, said in an email to The Associated Press.
The announcement came after Lee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers this month that it would be “desirable” for BTS members to fulfil their military duties to ensure fairness in the country’s military service.
Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are expected to serve 18 to 21 months in the military to defend against the threat from the country’s nuclear-armed neighbor, North Korea. But the law allows for special exemptions to be made for some, including athletes, musicians and others who enhance the country’s prestige.
Jin is expected to start the process to join the military as soon as the schedule for his solo release ends at the end of October, the group’s agency said.
Other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans, BigHit Music said.
While South Korea’s military for years had assigned enlisted entertainers to duties related to producing radio and TV material promoting the military, the “entertainment soldier” system was retired in 2013 following complaints over fairness.
Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup had said in August that if BTS members join the military, they would likely be allowed to continue practicing and to join back with the group for tours overseas.
Whether the BTS members must serve in the army had been a hotly debated issue in South Korea as Jin faced possible enlistment early next year. Jin turns 30 in December, the age at which men can no longer delay enlistment.
Under South Korean law, most able-bodied men are required to perform 18-21 months of military service, but special exemptions had been granted for athletes and artists who excel in certain international competitions that have been tied with national prestige.
Since the draft forces young men to suspend their professional careers or studies, the dodging of military duties or creation of exemptions is a highly sensitive issue.
BTS announced a break from group musical activities to pursue solo projects in June, raising questions about their future.