A long wait for Army of BTS fans, as K-pop band to enlist in military

Singers to soldiers: Members of the South Korean boy band BTS are going into military service for between 18 and 21 months. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: That shriek heard all around the world on Monday was the collective cries of disappointment from the global fans of BTS, also known as Army, when it was announced that all seven members will enlist in the South Korean military.

After months of discussion on whether the BTS members should fulfil their mandatory national service or be exempted from it, the group’s management Big Hit Music issued a statement on Monday that the members will be enlisting after all.

All able-bodied men in South Korea aged between 18 and 28 must serve in the military for between 18 and 21 months as part of efforts to defend against nuclear-armed North Korea.

The debate on exemption arose because of the boys’ artistic achievements worldwide.

Despite their initial dejection, Army in Malaysia are fully supportive of the members’ decision.

For Nur Arieza, 24, who works in warehouse administration, the news of their enlistment is “bittersweet”.

“I am sad to see them go but I am glad the members are leading their lives as normal Korean men by fulfilling their duties,” she said.

Nurul Tahirah, 23, is just as supportive.

“The sooner the members finish their military service, the sooner we will see their return.

“I am sure each BTS member will work hard beforehand to make sure their absence is not felt by the Army during their time away (from the entertainment world),” the university student said.

The group’s oldest member, Jin, 29, will be the first to start his enlistment process while his bandmates Suga, Jungkook, V, RM, Jimin and J-Hope will follow in stages.

Those not enlisted yet will continue with their individual work activities.

Big Hit Music said the septet will return as a full piece in 2025.

Jaime Pih said she was glad that the conscription was decided without any special exemptions.

“Serving in the military has been a long-drawn-out topic, something most of us knew was coming,” said the 43-year-old calligraphy business owner.

She added that BTS’ legion of fans will not be left high and dry as there is an ample amount of content from the group, including solo activities, to keep fans entertained.

“I’m positive they’ll be back stronger than ever. The year 2025 may feel like ages away but it’ll be here before we know it,” said Pih, who travelled to Las Vegas to watch BTS in concert early this year.

Lawyer Pauline N, 40, said she will continue to support the group in its absence.

“It’s a sad day for all Army but we are proud of you, BTS. We will continue to listen to your great songs while we eagerly await your safe return,” she said.

Over on social media, hashtags such as #ForeverWithBts and #btsmilitary trended after the announcement.

“This will allow them to reset after doing the same thing every day for 10 years. I have no doubt that they will come back with even better and more mature music that comes from life experience,” one fan tweeted.

Military service is compulsory for all able-bodied men in South Korea between the ages of 18 and 28.

There is an exemption and alternative service system for athletes and artists, but it does not include singers and actors in the entertainment industry.

BTS has captivated fans in its home country as well as Asia and even the world since its debut in 2013.

In 2020, the group released its first English song Dynamite, which shot to No.1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, the first Korean act to achieve such a feat.

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K-pop , BTS


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