K-pop superstars BTS may be granted an exemption from mandatory military service in South Korea.
“The time has come to establish a system to include popular cultural and artistic figures as art staff,” Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee said at a news conference on Wednesday, Yonhap news agency reports. Hwang said he aims to pass a new law through parliament that would allow pop stars to serve their country outside of the military.
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According to the current Military Service Law, all strong Korean men must enter military service for approximately two years before the age of 30. There are possible exemptions and reduced terms of service for top classical musicians, folk artists, and Olympic medalists.
A change to the Law in late 2020, possibly with BTS in mind, increased the age limit from 28 to 30, but did not grant an exemption for pop stars.
“ [exemption] the system has been meaningfully run to give those who have developed national status based on their excellent skills a chance to contribute to the country, and there is no reason to exclude the pop art-culture field from this,” Hwang said Wednesday. Someone has to be a responsible voice at a time when it happens.”
The move would be deeply controversial in Korea. Many men, who are already required to do conscription and will likely be opposed by the ministry of defense, oppose it. South Korea’s population is aging and there is a shortage of strongmen in the country’s military services deemed necessary to potentially confront an unforeseen and potentially threatening threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Hwang should try to convince the parliamentarians and military that Korea’s cultural soft power has equal weight in food and cosmetics, as epitomized in pop music, TV dramas, movies like “Parasite”.
Hwang said that forcing world-famous pop culture artists to leave their careers at the top to serve in the military would do great harm not only to the country but to the entire world.
Jin, the oldest member of BTS, will turn 30 in December.
The news came during the update of the band’s new album, titled “Proof” and promoted with the tagline “We are bulletproof”, which will be released on June 10. previously released material that will include three new songs.
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