K-pop mega stars BTS announced via their record label on Monday that beginning at the end of October, the band will begin transitioning to a new stage of life: entering the military. South Korea has mandatory military service for every able-bodied man for at least 18 months before they turn 28-years-old, and that includes celebrities.
However, that is also prime pop star time. BTS is huge all over the world, and it would have definitely derailed their rise to the top to interrupt for military service in their twenties. In 2020, South Korea’s parliament passed a bill seemingly tailored to the young performers’ situation. Those who “excel in popular culture and art” can defer service until they turn 30. The law formerly allowed special exceptions for top artists, athletes, and musicians, but pop music is now safely protected.
The band’s oldest member, Jin, turns 30 this year. In June, members RM, Jin, SUGA, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, somewhat casually announced a planned hiatus, shocking fans. Some of the group is allegedly going to work on solo projects, but others may be entering the army to get those 18 months out of the way. BTS plans to reunite in 2025, so they could potentially have time for both.
“Group member Jin will initiate the process as soon as his schedule for his solo release is concluded at the end of October,” the band’s label said. “He will then follow the enlistment procedure of the Korean government. Other members of the group plan to carry out their military service based on their own individual plans.”
That doesn’t mean this is the last fans will hear from them in the next few years. South Korea’s defense minister said this summer that BTS members might be able to perform overseas while serving in the military. Please thank them for their service.