KEY POINTS

  • Calls grow for BTS to be exempted from their mandatory military duties
  • A South Korean politician suggested that BTS could serve as ambassadors for the country
  • Jin is the oldest of the septet and will be the first to enlist

Fans and some politicians are calling for BTS to be exempted from mandatory military enlistment as recognition for the K-pop group's efforts in popularizing South Korean culture and arts.

A senior member of South Korea’s ruling Democratic Party recently suggested that BTS could serve as ambassadors of the country in their overseas travels, Reuters reported. 

“Not everyone has to take up a rifle to serve the country,” Noh Woong-rae said at a meeting of the party on Monday.

Noh's view echoes that of another member of the ruling party, who suggested a revision to the law that would allow some K-pop stars to delay their military enlistment until the age of 30.

“For the sake of the fairness we are not talking about exempting them from their duty, but pop musicians and artists like BTS - their careers can blossom in their twenties,” Jeon Yong-gi told Reuters.

“We cannot let military duty block their way at the height of their careers,” he continued.

Under South Korea’s law, all able-bodied men are required to undergo at least 21 months of mandatory military service. Although a person’s compulsory service in the military comes into effect once he turns 18, it is possible to delay enlistment until the age of 28.

BTS’ Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, will turn 28 on Dec. 4 and is the oldest of the septet, whose other members are RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook.

Jin previously addressed his military enlistment during a press conference in February for their album, “Map of the Soul: 7.”

When asked about enlisting, the singer said, “I'm ready to serve anytime.”

BTS' management also confirmed that the group's members will fulfill their military duties.

“The company believes military service is a duty,” Bang Si-hyuk, CEO of Big Hit Entertainment, told The Hollywood Reporter last year. “We will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties.”

BTS has a massive global fanbase. The group recently became the first South Korean act to reach no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

A number of public petitions have been filed urging the government to either exempt the group or allow them to delay their mandatory military enlistment. However, none of the petitions had garnered more than 200,000 signatures, which would warrant an official response from the government.

Posters showing BTS members outside a duty-free shop in Seoul Posters showing BTS members outside a duty-free shop in Seoul Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je