K-pop’s BTS may still be able to perform while doing military service – minister

BTS poses on the carpet during arrivals ahead of the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball concert at The Forum, in Inglewood, California, U.S., December 3, 2021. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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SEOUL, Aug 1 (Reuters) – K-pop boy band BTS may still be able to perform overseas while serving in the military, South Korea’s defense minister said on Monday, as the country is debating reducing compulsory military service for K-pop stars to three. weeks from about two years old.

The question becomes increasingly clear with the oldest member of the group, Jin, who turns 30 next year. Under a 2019 law review, globally recognized K-pop stars were allowed to defer service for up to 30 years.

Military service is extremely controversial in South Korea where all able-bodied males between the ages of 18 and 28 must serve as part of the defense efforts against nuclear-armed North Korea.

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Over the years, some categories have been granted exemptions – either allowed to postpone service or perform shorter service – including Olympic and Asian Games medalists and classical musicians and dancers who take top prizes at certain competitions. .

Parliament is currently debating a bill that would shorten military service for K-pop stars.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup, speaking at the parliamentary session, said that by allowing BTS to continue operating, the military could serve national interests without affecting the already dwindling pool of personnel resources. due to the low birth rate.

BTS management Big Hit did not respond to a request for comment.

“Even if they join the military, there would be a way to give them a chance to train and perform together if there are concerts scheduled overseas,” Lee said.

“Since many people are very fond of (artists serving) in the military, this may help increase their popularity even more.”

The seven-member group announced a hiatus in June from the group’s musical activities to pursue solo projects, pleading exhaustion. Read more

In April, a Big Hit official said some members were going through “difficult times” due to uncertainties surrounding parliamentary debate, calling for a decision.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS have become a global sensation with their upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people.

BTS became the first Asian group to win Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards last year, and they met with US President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.

A South Korean think tank estimated in 2018 that BTS would bring economic benefit totaling 56 trillion won ($43 billion) between 2014 and 2023.

(This story refiles to correct typo in first paragraph)

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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