Given that BTS accounts for $5 billion (!) of South Korea’s gross GDP, members of #BTSArmy weren’t the only ones worryingly counting down the days until the K-pop group’s members became of age and would be forced to enlist into the military, as required by the country’s constitution.
Well, as luck would have it, South Korea’s National Assembly has just passed legislation revising South Korea’s Military Service Act. According to the New York Times, the revised law allows top K-pop stars to postpone military service until they turn 30 — two years later than originally required. Additionally, K-pop entertainers who have received government metals for their cultural impact can now apply for deferment from the military.
The timing of the legislation is by no means coincidental: BTS’s oldest member, Kim Seok-jin, a.k.a. “Jin”, turns 28 years old on Friday.
“It’s a sacred duty to defend our country, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to carry a weapon,” Noh Woong-rae, a senior lawmaker in the South Korea’s Democratic Party, said in an October statement supporting special treatment for BTS (via NY Times).
For their part, the members of BTS have not shied away from the possibility of compulsory military service. Asked about it in 2019, Jin said, “As a Korean, it’s natural. And some day, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best.”
Even if that’s the case, it’s hard to imagine South Korea would be willing to disband its most lucrative export, whose star only grows brighter by the day. In just the last week alone, BTS scored their second No. 1 album of the year, dominated the global song sales chart by claiming the top six entries, and earned their first music Grammy nomination. And today, we named Map of the Soul: 7 one of our favorite releases of 2020. The future remains quite bright for BTS, and South Korea would be wise to allow their world domination to continue for as long as possible.