South Korean Government Rules Out BTS’ Exemption From Mandatory Enlistment
Under the new government guidelines, BTS and other K-Pop stars won’t be exempted from serving in the military.
In the beginning of 2019, a government task force was assigned to restructure the rules for the mandatory military services. This is meant to ensure fairness in the enlistment of South Korean men. The final decision is set to be disclosed this week.
BTS Hits It Big Globally
RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook received worldwide recognition when they won their first Billboard Music Awards trophy in 2017. Since then, there has been no stopping the group. The septet has been breaking records and collaborating with big names in the music industry. Most importantly, they have been using their global popularity make a positive influence by leading the Love Yourself movement.
Not only that, the group received a Grammy nomination (last year, Love Yourself: Tear was nominated for Best Recording Package). The boys also presented and made appearances during the Awards. Thus, the group played a major role in putting the South Korean flag in the entertainment map globally.
With this, the government received a huge amount of requests and petitions from fans to exempt the members from mandatory military enlistment. Classical musicians and winning athletes (medals in the Olympics and gold medals in Asian Games) obtain military enlistment exemptions. Despite the fans’ petitions, the boys previously expressed their willingness and readiness to perform their duties for their country.
Cultural Minister Park Yang Woo said, “In the case of BTS, I personally wish I could allow exemptions for them under certain standards. However, the Military Manpower Administration and the Ministry of National Defense are inclined to downsize the overall scope (of exemption)”. Minister Park met with Korean reporters in Paris last Tuesday.
“Unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the criteria of the selection in the popular culture and arts fields which makes it difficult to institutionalize (a waiver system),” the minister added.
South Korea’s Mandatory Enlistment
As a result of the ceasefire between the neighboring nations, the South Korean government imposes a mandatory military conscription for all its healthy and physically fit young men between ages 18 to 35.
BTS’ eldest member, Jin turns 28 years old (Korean age) this December. This requires him to enlist in the military by 2020. After Jin, Suga follows suit as he is just a year younger than the former.
Right now, agencies handling male artists/entertainers are having difficulties with their artists who are turning 25 as restrictions are in place regarding their overseas tours. According to Park, the new rules are aiming to lift the overseas restrictions to those individuals the culture minister recommends.
To sum it up, the new structure they are building for the military enlistment will maintain exemptions for athletes and artists but needed to make a bigger social contributions.
Culture Minister Park is currently in Paris for the UNESCO Forum of Ministers of Culture. He will be present at the opening of a new Korean Cultural Center there. Additionally, he announced his plans of establishing government control tower in harnessing the Korean Wave in manufacturing and service fields.
“It is critical to connect hallyu (Korean wave) with exports, the manufacturing and service industries. For this task, it is important to set up a cooperation system between government agencies,” he added. According to him, the control tower, or “hallyu promotion team”, will launch this year.
Source: Yonhap News Agency
Image Credit: Big Hit Entertainment