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Military Service: All 7 BTS members now doing military service. Countdown begins for fans’ ‘Army’

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Fans of the K-pop band BTS have known for years that a day would come when its seven members would all be doing mandatory service in the South Korean military. That day arrived on Tuesday. For many BTS fans, who happen to call themselves Army, seeing their favourite musicians enter the armed forces was as painful as they expected it to be. Any potential reunion concert, once the members have all fulfilled their military duty, is at least a year and six months away.For those of you starting timers: That’s about 547 days, 13,128 hours or 47 million seconds.
The BTS enlistments began last December, when Jin, the oldest member of the group, entered a military training center near the North Korean border shortly after his 30th birthday. The members J-Hope and Suga enlisted a few months later, followed by RM, the group’s leader, and V on Monday. (Suga is performing an alternative form of military service as a social service agent.) The last two members, Jimin and Jungkook, began their military service on Tuesday. A typical enlistment in South Korea is 18 months. The band’s management said last year that BTS would reconvene “around 2025”, but before then, the group’s members could potentially perform informally for their fellow troops.
The band’s collective conscription caps a yearslong discussion in South Korea about whether BTS members should have been exempt from mandatory service. While able-bodied men over the age of 18 are required to serve in South Korea’s military, some exemptions are made, including for Olympic champions and some classical musicians who win international competitions. Pop stars, however, are not eligible, a fact that sparked debate over whether BTS had earned one because of its contributions to South Korea’s economy and cultural exports. In 2020, South Korea’s Parliament revised a law to allow cultural and artistic icons to defer their enlistment to the age of 30, up two years from 28. (Jin, who was born in 1992, would have been required to enlist in 2020 if not for the revision.)
The group’s music label, Big Hit Music, has urged fansto refrain from showing up at the enlistment sites to “prevent safety accidents”. Ceremonies are reserved for family members Still, there were signs that these were not ordinary enlistments. On Monday, a coach bus turned up at the main gate of a military facility in the city of Nonsan with its exterior displaying a photo of V next to a microphone. “V Day,” it said.



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