Oldest member of K-pop group BTS shaves his head before starting mandatory military service
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The oldest member of K-pop group BTS has shaved his head as he embarks on mandatory military service.
South Korean males aged between 18 to 35 are forced to join the country's military for up to nearly two years.
The rule, which has existed since 1957, has meant the biggest K-pop band in the world has gone on hiatus.
Kim Seok-jin is the first member of the group to go into service and he will go to a frontline South Korean boot camp.
South Korea's defence ministry said the artist, who is known as Jin, has been deployed to Yeoncheon, which is a town near the with North Korea.
He'll be there for five weeks of basic military training alongside other newly conscripted soldiers.
The Associated Press said fans gathered near the camp to get a glimpse of the pop star as well as show their support for him.
One person told the outlet: "Actually it’s complicated. I want to be sad. I want to be happy for him. Mixed feelings. He has to serve [for] his country.”
Jin posted a photo of his newly shaved buzzcut and said it's thankfully not as bad as what he thought it would be.
A cadet who completed his training at Yeoncheon told the BBC that Jin will experience a lot during his weeks of training.
Yang Su-yeon explained: "I was pretty nervous to hold the grenade and shocked to learn how powerful it was.
"It was physically demanding, but mentally it was okay. The drill sergeants were all friendly."
The outlet says there were plenty of rumours that the BTS crew might be spared from their mandatory military service.
It was thought their huge star power and how much they help the country's economy could let them off the hook.
The mayor of Busan also asked for the President of South Korea to provide an exemption for the band so that they’d be able to support the city’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo.
“Without solving the military service issue, BTS actively promoting Busan’s bid for the Expo might be impossible,” Park Heong-joon told President Yoon Suk-yeol.
That suggestion was dismissed by the Defence Minister in September, when Suh Wook said that it would prove ‘difficult’ to give them an exemption because of ‘aspects of fairness on fulfilling mandatory military service’.
The other guys in the band – Jung Kook, Jimin, V, Suga, RM, and j-Hope – will also enter the military, as confirmed in a notice to financial regulators from Big Hit Music.