BTS Set to Serve in South Korean Military.

During their hiatus the members of K-pop group BTS will serve in the South Korean military.


BTS on stage during the 61st Grammy Awards on Feb. 10, 2019. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

On May 10th, Yoon Suk-yeol was elected as the democratic president of South Korea, winning  by 0.73%. After over 100 days in office, his approval rating dropped to 24 percent, with 66 percent of South Koreans disapproving. With this low rating, Yoon and his administration did something controversial. They forced the K-pop band BTS to serve in the South Korean military.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol (right) shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris (left) during their meeting at the presidential office on Sept. 29, 2022 in Seoul, South Korea. (South Korean Presidential Office/Getty Images/TNS)

South Korea military law says that all men must serve 18 months in the military before age 30, but exceptions can be made for musicians, athletes, and those who enhance the country’s prestige. 

Before this announcement however, the Korean Parliament gave the members of BTS an extension – they would not receive any prosecution for not serving by 30 years old. But on October 17th, BTS announced that during their hiatus the members would serve in the military.

BTS is the largest K-pop group in the world, with the band selling out arenas across the world and 40 million listeners a month on Spotify. They contribute over 4 billion US dollars to the South Korean economy every year. The birthdays of band members are celebrated with posters on subway trains and billboards across the country.

The oldest member of BTS, Kim Seok-jin, is set to start his service within a month of the announcement, after his solo album releases at the end of October. 

Both Korean and American audiences were outraged at the decision. Social media platforms like Twitter trending BTS and South Korea with over one hundred thousand tweets within an hour. 

BTS arrives for the 62nd Grammy Awards. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

But it isn’t just them, an opinion survey showed that sixty percent of the South Korean population approved of the exception of service for BTS.

This is not Yoon’s or his administration’s first time involved in controversy or facing backlash from South Korean citizens. Yoon belongs to the People Power Party, the conservative South Korean party. In June, the leader of the party, Lee Jun-seok, was given a two month suspension for taking sexual favors as bribes. 

During the election Yoon proposed to lower the school entry age from 6 years old to 5 years old to increase the number of workers by having children complete their education sooner. After the proposal was made public it was critiqued so heavily that the education minister resigned. He also advocated for a 120 hour work week and he critiqued the 52 hour maximum work week. 

In their public statement BTS said that they were “honored to serve” and are expected to reunite together after their military service ends in 2025.