SOUTH KOREA: Jin, the eldest member of BTS, a K-pop band, is set to start his mandatory military service on December 13 this year.
The news was confirmed on Thursday (November 24) by the South Korean publication, citing unnamed military officials. Jin, who turns 30 on December 4, will undergo five weeks of training at the boot camp before being sent to a unit, as per the newspaper.
The South Korean Ministry of Defense and spokespersons for BTS’ agency, HYBE, both declined requests for confirmation of the report.
Jin hinted in a social media post last week that he would be heading to the “front line.” The news left fans distraught and overwhelmed, with others even expressing worry for Jin’s safety.
One admirer wrote, “My heart literally dropped when I saw that he would be deployed to the front line.” “This military thing that has surrounded BTS for years has never really concerned me until now. Why the front line? Why??,” the user further added.
The prospect of the mandatory requirement of serving in the military has long hung over K-pop artists, sparking year-long disputes in South Korea over whether they were deserving of exemptions—which are granted to classical musicians and Olympic medalists, for example.
In October, the group declared that it would proceed with mandatory military services, and Jin will be the first one to go for the services, clearing years of uncertainty.
“The group intends to work on individual projects before coming back together in 2025 after every member of the group has served,” said the HYBE.
In South Korea, every able-bodied male between the ages of 18 and 28 must serve an 18- to 21-month military enlistment.
However, a few groups, such as medalists from the Olympics and Asian Games, as well as classical musicians and dancers who bagged first position in specific competitions, have been granted exemptions or had their terms of duty shortened.
Several MPs had called for BTS to be exempt. In August, Seoul’s defence minister suggested that BTS might be permitted to continue performing and preparing for big international concerts even while serving in the military.