K-pop group BTS has announced that they will be taking time off from making music to serve in the military. In South Korea, it is mandatory for able-bodied men between 18 and 28 to enlist in the military. They must serve for around two years. This new development comes months after BTS told fans that they will be taking a break. Some members went on to work on individual projects post this.
“BIGHIT MUSIC has focused to the milestone moment when it would be possible to respect the needs of the country and for these healthy young men to serve with their countrymen, and that’s now.” BIGHIT, their management, said in a statement. “Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment.”
[공지] 방탄소년단 병역 이행 및 향후 활동 계획 안내 (+ENG/JPN/CHN) pic.twitter.com/jntF90agO4
— BIGHIT MUSIC (@BIGHIT_MUSIC) October 17, 2022
Given their career commitments, the parliament passed a bill in 2020 allowing the group to push their service until they turned 30. Of the seven members, the oldest, Jin, is now 29, while the youngest, Jungkook, is 24. The former will be the first to enlist. In the past, exemptions have been made in special cases, such as for Olympic medallists, musicians and dancers. But it seems that BTS is willing to take time off from music to carry out their duty by law. Many fans are unhappy with the implications of this decision. It means that BTS will be unable to make new music, whether individually or as a band, for the next few years.
However, it seems there might be some respite. South Korean Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup hinted at the possibility of BTS being able to perform while enlisted. “There would be a way to give them a chance to practice and perform together,” BBC quoted him. Fans will have to wait and see what the future holds for the group, and whether indeed this is possible.