Defence Minister: It Would Be 'Difficult' To Exempt BTS From Military Service

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South Korea’s defence minister has reportedly said it would be “difficult” to exempt the members of BTS from mandatory military service.

According to media reports, Lee Jong-sup cited “aspects of fairness on fulfilling mandatory military service” after an opposition party member proposed the seven pop stars be allowed to provide alternate services.

“Korean pop celebrities active in the international field make unimaginable economic and social contributions,” Kim Young-bae said. “I believe pop celebrities will make important contributions to the national interest … through doing alternative military service.”

BTS were recently appointed PR ambassadors for the country’s bid to host the World Expo.

Last month, Lee Jong-sup said: “Even if they join the military, there would be a way to give them a chance to practise and perform together if there are scheduled concerts abroad. As many people highly value (artists serving) in the military, that may help boost their popularity even more."

The commissioner of the military manpower administration, Lee Ki-sik was quoted as saying a decision needs to be made because an exemption could “garner feelings of discrimination, discrepancy and discouragement among the younger male generation who are fulfilling their military duties.”

South Korea’s conscription law requires most males to register to start 18 months of military service by the time they are 28. A 2021 amendment allows pop stars who have received government medals to apply for deferment of their military service until they are 30. BTS received the Order of Cultural Merit by president Moon Jae-In in 2018.

The members of BTS currently range in age from 24 to 29. (Jin turns 30 in December and Suga will be 30 next March.)

BTS management has previously said it believes “military service is a duty, and we will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties.”

South Korea's culture minister has previously supported an exemption and a recent poll showed that 60 percent of citizens do, too.

There has also been a proposal to shorten the length of service for pop stars from nearly two years to just three weeks.

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