K-pop boy band BTS members will serve mandatory military service, starting with its oldest member Jin, their agency said on Monday (Oct 17).
"All other members will also serve mandatory military duty according to their plans," their management group HYBE said in a regulatory filing.
The announcement comes after the group's concert in Busan on Saturday in support of South Korea's bid to host the World Expo 2030 in the southern port city.
The free concert – Titled BTS In BUSAN – drew an audience of about 52,000 people to a stadium, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
A total of 100,000 were expected to visit the stadium and other areas, according to Busan Metropolitan City authorities, with some fans watching the event live on large screens set up at several places around Busan.
The concert followed the seven-member band's announcement of a break in June from group musical activities to pursue solo projects, raising questions about the band's future.
Military service is hugely controversial in South Korea where all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 28 must fulfil their duties as part of efforts to defend against nuclear-armed North Korea.
"If the seven BTS members feel the same way and if you guys have faith in us, we will overcome whatever happens to us in the future and we will perform with you guys and make music. Please have faith in us," BTS leader RM told fans during the concert, without elaborating further.
BTS made its debut in June 2013 and became a worldwide sensation with its upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering young people.
Last year, BTS became the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards.
The group met US President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes against Asians. – Reuters