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Korean Wave

BTS not exempted from military service, but can still perform — defense minister

Kristofer Purnell - Philstar.com
BTS not exempted from military service, but can still perform â defense minister
(L-R) Jimin, J-Hope, Jin, Jungkook, RM, Suga, and V of BTS perform onstage during the 2021 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.
AFP/Getty Images for MRC/Kevin Winter

MANILA, Philippines — A top government official in South Korea stated that popular K-pop group BTS could continue performing while undergoing the country's mandatory military service.

South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup touched upon the issue of BTS' military service during a parliamentary session when he was asked if the group could be exempted.

"If they join the military, there would be a way to give them a chance to practice and perform together if there are scheduled concerts abroad,” said Lee in a report obtained by Billboard. “As many people highly value [artists serving] in the military, that may help boost their popularity even more.”

In doing so, BTS will be able to carry on with their service but still perform to "serve national interests."

South Korean men aged 18 to 30 are required to undergo a mandatory two-year military service, though BTS have been able to avoid serving due to an amendment that allows entertainers who have made “great contributions” in popular culture to delay their military duty.

Related: BTS to receive exemption from mandatory military service?

There are waivers that exempt classical musicians, folk performers, and top-performing athletes from serving full-time, but none for popular performers.

As such, military service is looming for BTS' oldest member Jin, who turns 30 in December and must be drafted soon. The inevitable service is assumed to be one of the reasons the group took an indefinite hiatus from group events as they pursue solo careers.

Former Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee had previously said making BTS undergo military service would be "a cultural loss for mankind... when their achievements in promoting national prestige and their skills are at their peak.”

Military Manpower Association's Lee Ki-shik, however, said that exempting figures like BTS from military service could “break the overall framework of military service exemption.”

The South Korean parliament are currently discussing a bill that would shorten military service for K-pop stars to three weeks, and another bill with the amendment to allow alternative service by transferring popular culture and artists as art agents.

RELATED: Permission to stay: BTS' 'In the SOOP' site open for Airbnb booking for only $7

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