Whether global stars BTS will have to finally fulfill their mandatory military service is a question that has been playing on the minds of their fans for a few years now. It seems the South Korean government is also unable to come up with a solution yet. While fans would hate to see the band or some of its members go on a hiatus, BTS are also cultural envoys of South Korea and a significant contributor to the country’s economy.
South Korea’s National Assembly is reportedly divided over possibly exempting the K-pop band from mandatory military service. Lawmakers on Thursday discussed a bill that would allow prominent pop celebrities like BTS to substitute their mandatory military service for other public service, but failed to draw a conclusion. A new report from Yonhap News Agency, which quoted remarks from Boo Seung-chan, the spokesperson for Korea’s defense ministry, said that the military is considering “situational variables” over the so-called BTS Law.
The BTS Law bill, if passed, would allow the septet to continue their work as K-pop idols for 34 months under an alternative program, in place of them undergoing the regular 18 to 22 months of mandatory military service served by South Korean males, per The Korea Herald.
“Regarding the revision bill, the defense ministry cannot help but consider situational variables. The one that we face at this very moment is the situation caused by the shrinking population. Secondly, there is also a need for social consensus. In other words, this is about a fair military service,” Boo said during a press briefing, via Yonhap News Agency.
In its reports, Yonhap and The Korea Herald noted that a subcommittee of the National Assembly’s defense committee had “failed to make any progress” during discussions earlier today. The latter outlet also described the debate over the pros and cons of the law as “intense”.
All able-bodied South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 must carry out compulsory military service for about two years in a country that faces North Korea across a heavily fortified border. Military service exemptions were given only to international award-winning athletes and classical musicians for their roles in elevating the country’s reputation overseas.
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