On November 25, 2021, according to a military reporter for Asia E, the Korean National Assembly had gathered to discuss a revision on the Military Service Act. It was discussed as to whether or not, cultural impactful and popular artists who promote national prestige, would be allowed to replace military service with volunteer work.
The original Military Service Act currently exempts culturally impactful sportsmen and artists with exceptional skills, not including singers. This can refer to musicians or renowned ballet dancers. However, with the impact that BTS has had globally and how they have helped to boost national prestige, many members of the public had been encouraging the government to reconsider expanding exemptions to singers and BTS. It seems that the involved councils are still reluctant to expand exemptions for various reasons, one cited including the drop in human resources for South Korea due to a declining population.
The Military Manpower Administration also stated that the incorporation of popular cultural singers into the term of art and sports personnel requires careful review in consideration of objective standards and public consensus.
Many have been especially relating this issue to BTS, given that they are one of the very few male singers that have achieved such status in South Korea and globally. Furthermore, the oldest member, Jin, will have up to December 2022 to join the military if the review is not passed.
While most Korean men must enlist by 28 years of age, BTS has already received the Hwagwan Order of Culture, equivalent a 5th grade order of cultural merit, and hence can postpone their enlistment until the age of 30. On the other hand, most of the discussion is led by the general public, with the members themselves never having requested for exemption.
However, not all hope for an exemption is lost. The National Defense Commission plans to continue discussions by preparing to collect public opinion in the future. Stay tuned for more updates!
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