Jin, the oldest member of BTS, started his eighteen months of mandatory military service at a South Korean boot camp. Fans came to the base to bid farewell to the star. The rest of the group members are set to join the military in a few years as they’re younger. Due to South Korea’s mandatory service, the group has decided to take a hiatus until they complete their military duty.
Experts debate on who should get exemptions
Their enlistments have started a debate over whether it’s time to revise the country’s system to expand exemptions to include popular entertainers like BTS or not to provide these benefits to anyone.
With lawmakers arguing on the legal level, and surveys showing split public opinions, their management agency stated that all BTS members would perform their compulsory duties. Big Hit Music said that the company and K-POP group members “are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment.”
Jin, who turned thirty, entered the boot camp at Yeoncheon, near the tense border with North Korea. After completing training involving rifle shooting, marching practices, and grenade-throwing, he and other conscripts would be assigned to army units across the country.
About twenty-thirty fans and dozens of journalists stood near the camp. Unfortunately, Jin didn’t meet them as a car carrying him moved into the boot camp immediately.
“I want to wait (for) Jin and see him go into the military and wish him all the best,” said Mandy Lee from Hong Kong before Jin’s entrance to the camp.
“Actually, it’s complicated. Mixed feelings. I wanna be sad. I wanna be happy for him. He has to serve (for) his country,” said Angelina from Indonesia.
Fans asked not to gather around the camp
Jin and his management team asked fans not to visit the camp and notified them that there wouldn’t be any special meet-up involving the star to prevent issues caused by crowding.
Authorities still mobilized 300 police, soldiers, emergency workers, and others to maintain order and prevent accidents.
Before entering the camp, Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, posted on the online fan platform Weverse saying, “It’s time for a curtain call.” The post is a photo of himself with a military buzz cut and a caption saying, “Ha ha ha. It’s cuter than I had expected.”
By law, all able-bodied South Korean men should serve in the military for eighteen to twenty-one months under a conscription system established to handle North Korea’s threats. Korean law gives special exemptions to classical and traditional musicians, athletes, and dancers if they’ve won prizes in certain competitions since they enhance national prestige. K-pop stars and other entertainers are only given these benefits if they gain fame and win big international awards.