The long-feared news has finally arrived, leaving fans with mixed emotions: BTS is embarking on a hiatus to fulfill their mandatory military service obligations in South Korea. As the members of BTS enter the army, millions of devoted ARMYs eagerly anticipate their eventual return.
On Monday, BTS’s record label announced that all members of the beloved band would be fulfilling their military service duties, with plans to reunite two years later. According to a statement from Big Hit Music, “Jin, one of the group members, will initiate the enlistment process as soon as he concludes his solo release schedule at the end of October. He will follow the enlistment procedure outlined by the Korean government.”
The statement further elaborated that the remaining members of the group intend to carry out their military service in accordance with their individual plans. Thus, as the curtain falls on BTS’s active performances, the world will await their eagerly anticipated return.
This announcement comes mere days after BTS mesmerized their home country with a monumental free concert—marking their first live performance in South Korea since the onset of the pandemic.
Two years ago, the South Korean government passed an amendment to the Military Service Act, allowing exceptional artists who have made substantial contributions to the nation’s reputation to delay their enlistment by two years. Consequently, this amendment would have permitted BTS to postpone their military service obligations until the age of 30. However, the record label has now confirmed the withdrawal of their request to delay Jin’s conscription, signaling a change in plans. It appears that the rest of the band, including the youngest member, Jungkook, will not be availing themselves of this extended delay. Instead, Jin will initiate the enlistment process following the release of his upcoming solo single, with the remaining members expected to follow suit after completing their respective solo projects.
In South Korea, it is mandatory for all men between the ages of 18 and 30 to enlist and complete their mandatory military service for a minimum of 18 months.
There has been an ongoing debate surrounding whether BTS, as cultural ambassadors and significant contributors to South Korea’s economy, should be exempt from military service. Notably, a report revealed that in 2019 alone, three BTS concerts in Seoul generated a staggering economic impact of $860 million. Research conducted by the Hyundai Research Institute also estimates that BTS contributes approximately $3.54 billion to the South Korean economy each year.
Back in 2020, Jin expressed his willingness to fulfill his duty when asked about military service during a press conference, stating, “If my country calls and the timing is right, I will accept the duty at any time. It’s something all the members frequently discuss, and we all plan to fulfill our military service.”
Furthermore, in their song “What Do You Think,” Suga passionately raps, “We’ll go serve in the military when the time comes.”
In 2018, Son Heung-min, a 28-year-old footballer for South Korea’s national team and Tottenham Hotspur, was granted exemption from military enlistment due to his pivotal role in the team’s victory against Japan in the final Asian Games match. As a result, his required two-year enlistment period was significantly reduced to four weeks, which he began in April 2020 following a two-week self-isolation period. Having successfully completed his military service, Son has since returned to playing football in the United Kingdom.
However, it should be noted that the members of BTS are not yet entirely on hiatus. Each member will fulfill their military service obligation after releasing their individual solo music projects and wrapping up their promotional activities. This approach will allow them to continue their musical journey like a relay team, taking turns while maintaining their artistic presence.
As Big Hit Music aptly expressed, “‘Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)’ is more than just a track from their latest album; it represents a promise. There is much more to anticipate and cherish in the years ahead as we continue witnessing the incredible journey of BTS.”
Indeed, as BTS embark on this mandatory hiatus, their devoted ARMYs around the world eagerly anticipate their eventual return, knowing that this temporary departure is simply a stepping stone towards the next beautiful chapter in their remarkable story.