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BTS may possibly occur during military service: minister

#BTS #possibly #occur #military #service #minister

K-pop sensations BTS may still be allowed to perform and prepare for international concerts even as they complete their mandatory military service in South Korea, the defense minister said Monday.

All healthy young South Korean men under the age of 30 are required to serve about two years of military service, largely due to the fact that the country is technically still at war with nuclear-armed North Korea.

The specter of conscription has long hung over BTS, with its seven male stars ranging in age from 24-year-old Jungkook to 29-year-old Jin, who must enlist by next year or risk jail time.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said during a parliamentary session that it could be in the national interest to find a way to keep world stars on stage during their stint in the South Korean military.

“I think there will be a way to give them time to practice in the military and allow them to perform together when a performance abroad is planned,” he said.

“Since many people rate military service very highly themselves, it might be more helpful to their popularity,” he added, responding to a lawmaker’s question on the matter.

South Korea grants exemptions from military service to some top athletes, like Olympic medalists and classical musicians — but pop stars don’t qualify.

The lack of exemptions for BTS, which is credited with billions of dollars for South Korea’s economy, has sparked heated debate in the past.

Who does military service – and who doesn’t – is a highly explosive issue in South Korea.

Conscientious objection is a crime and can lead to imprisonment and social stigma, but some South Koreans still resort to extreme measures — such as trying to gain weight or undergoing unnecessary surgeries — to evade duty, AFP has reported.

BTS have shown no signs that they attempted to evade the draft.

“As a South Korean young man, I believe military service is a given. And like I’ve always said, I’ll answer the country’s call whenever it comes,” Jin said in 2020.

The group had already benefited from a 2020 revision of South Korea’s conscription law, which raised the age limit for some entertainers from 28 to 30.

A majority of South Koreans – 59 percent – support expanding the exemption from military service, but there is strong opposition from young men who have already done so, local reports said.

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