HYBE CCO Lee Jin Hyung has clarified that BTS ‘will accept the call of duty’ when the time comes for their military service. 

Fans of BTS all over the world have been waiting to find out whether the seven members of the group will be exempted from military exemption. The K-pop group’s company, HYBE, has now clarified their official stance on the matter. 

In a press conference ahead of BTS’ concerts in Vegas, HYBE CCO Lee Jin Hyung said, albeit cautiously: “It’s true that we are wary of speaking about this [matter], because we know how important the issue of military service is in Korea. We hope that a decision will be reached on the amendment to the Military Service Act as soon as possible.” he said. 

For those not in the know, South Korean law requires all able-bodied males to serve in the military by the age of 28. Said law applies to everyone, including celebrities, with very few exceptions. These often include Olympic gold medalists and recipients of global awards in arts and culture. 

Since the group’s blazing rise on the global front, some BTS fans, along with many members of the South Korean government, have been reckoning with the idea of having the group be exempt from the mandatory military conscription. 

In an unprecedented move in 2020, the South Korean government passed an amendment to the Military Service Act, dubbed the “BTS Military Service Amendment”. 

Said amendment allowed artists who had received the recommendation of the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism to postpone enlisting until they turned 30 years old in international age. With this amendment, member Jin – who was due to enlist in 2020 – was able to defer his enlistment by two more years. 

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Jin is now slated to enlist before the end of 2022, but some government officials have proposed that artists who have made significant contributions to ‘national interest’ be exempt from enlisting. 

At the press conference, Lee clarified that the members had left the decision to the company. 

“The BTS members have currently left the matter of their military service in the hands of the company. BTS has already conveyed the message multiple times that they will accept the call of duty when the nation calls them, and they have not changed that opinion.” he explained. 

“However, the policy on military service has changed a little, and as the members are experiencing changes to the Military Service Act that they did not expect, they are currently monitoring the situation while discussing the matter with the company.” he continued.

“The company told BTS that after the new amendment to the Military Service Act was proposed, we were wary of making a decision in regards to their military service, and the BTS members maturely accepted this and left the matter in the hands of the company.” Lee said. 

Saying that both the group and the company were keeping a ‘close eye’ on the decision about the amendment, Lee promised: “Ultimately, we plan to do our utmost so that a decision can be reached that is beneficial to both our society and BTS.” 

Earlier in April, the transition team for newly-elected South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol said that the band’s military exemption had not been discussed ‘yet’.

In November, a bill proposed in the National Assembly that would have allowed pop musicians to avail exemptions of the Military Service Act failed to pass because of opposition that it would be unfair to other young men. Said bill is still pending in the Assembly. 

You can read more about this topic over at the Asia Pop Observer.

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