Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS
The band members have co-authored the book 'Beyond the Story' with Weverse Magazine editor-in-chief Myeongseok Kang | File photo: Twitter/BTS

Should BTS get exemption from military training? Debate rages in South Korea

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The sudden announcement by BTS informing about the band taking a break has sparked questions and speculations about the future of the K-pop group. The fans, whom the band called ‘Army’, have been informed that the band members will focus on individual projects for some time. However, the recent debate on whether the band must be exempted from compulsory military training has led the fans to wonder if the cause of the break is the same.

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As per some media reports, there have been calls from Korea’s former culture minister for military exemption for BTS because of their contribution to South Korea’s tourism and international recognition. The view has, however, been countered by critics who say that such an exemption would mean bending rules for other less deserving celebrities as well.

According to some reports, Jin, 29 is the eldest of the seven-membered group and is expected to enlist in the army before he turns 30.

As per some reports, military enlistment of members has always been a concern for the parent company of the band- Hybe. It has been reported that BTS accounts for more than 80 per cent of the company’s profit.

The band members have remained active on social media, continuing the streaming of posts, photos and giving assurances to the fans that they are not permanently breaking up.

Also Read: Sabbatical or disbanding? BTS breaks a million hearts

As per South Korea’s military law, all able-bodied men aged 18 to 28 will have to serve in the military for at least 18 months to defend the country against threats from North Korea. Under the current law, exceptions have been made for Olympic and Asian Games’ medallists and globally recognized classical musicians who are allowed to go for alternative public service.

As per a report from the Guardian, BTS alone are worth more than $3.54bn annually to the South Korean economy. As per the article, the band was the reason 8,00,000 tourists had visited the country the previous year.

Another event that brought the band under moral questioning is its stand on American social issues and preferrable silence on national issues of their own country.

In 2020, the K-pop group had donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter in event of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In an interview, the members clarified their stance. The group had explained that they do not consider themselves political and the donation was not meant to be something other than a donation.

The band continues to take a social stand on issues concerning hate crimes against Asians.

In a tweet, US President Joe Biden said to27 the group, “It was great to meet with you this week at the White House. The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes requires all of us to stand up, speak out, and give hate no safe harbour. Thanks for all you’re doing. It matters.”

The award-winning group has picked up two Grammy nominations and has sold more than 30m albums worldwide.

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