South Korean military wants to conscript K-pop band BTS
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South Korea’s military has said conscripting K-pop band BTS into the army is ‘desirable’.
The nation’s armed forces reckon conscripting the world-famous hit-makers would ensure fairness, but South Korea is split over the call.
Able-bodied men must take part in between 18 and 21 months of military service, but it’s worth pointing out that the country does make exemptions for musicians, dancers and athletes who have won prizes that boost South Korea’s prestige.
On Friday (7 October), South Korea’s defence minister Lee Jong-Sup ordered officials to examine whether or not BTS' participation in the military should be determined via a public survey.
Seoul’s parliament passed a bill that allows global K-pop stars (like BTS) to have their upper national service age moved to 30, however, with BTS member Jin’s 30th birthday happening next year, he may well be called up.
Lee Ki Sik, the commissioner of the military manpower administration, told MPs this week that it’s ‘desirable’ for BTS to fulfil their duties.
However, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defence is not onboard with the idea of a survey, saying in a statement: "The Ministry of National Defence will not arrange a public poll on the matter, nor make decisions on the issue of BTS' military service solely based on the result of the poll."
A recent poll in South Korea determined that 61 percent of participants are in support of military service exemptions for entertainers. However, in another poll, 54 percent of people said BTS should be called up.
Speaking last month, Lee said BTS members that do serve will most likely be able to continue practising and can still join the group on overseas tours.
Those exempt in South Korea will take part in three weeks of basic training before being released, but must still complete 544 hours of voluntary work.
It’s thought the final decision on BTS’ enlistment will be made by December, which is the same month Jin turns 30.
On 5 October, Korean Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Park Bo Kyun confirmed: “Member Jin’s enlistment is set to be sorted out by December, but the MCST will finalise our stance before that.”
Park Bo Kyun added: “BTS has made Korea known as the vanguard of K-culture and created a huge economic ripple effect, there are equity issues between popular artists including BTS and those who practice fine arts, this will affect the group when one of the BTS members joins the army, there are [results of] public opinion analysis and opinions of men in their 20s, and so on.”
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