Yeoncheon, South Korea
K-pop supergroup BTS entered a new era on Tuesday when Jin, the group’s oldest member, began his mandatory military service amid tight security at a training center. military training in south Korea.
Ton30 years old, will spend 18 months in military uniform after passing the Yeoncheon military base in the northern province of Gyeonggi, where security personnel and the media outnumbered several hundred fans gathered to catch a glimpse of the palace. stars – ignoring his earlier plea to keep them away.
A convoy of six black trucks, believed to be carrying Jin and his security personnel, entered the base just before 2 p.m.
Many banners line the road welcoming Jin and other recruits to the base, less than 10 miles (16 km) from the Demilitarized Zone separating South and South Korea. North Korea.
Among those enlisted to join the 5th Infantry Division on Tuesday was Kim Seok-jin, 20, from Daejon, who shares the same name as the superstar rookie.
Waiting outside a restaurant across from his parents’ base, Kim showed off his new buzz haircut – the same one Jin had a few days earlier – and said he was nervous waiting to get inside.
“But I’m also happy to join Jin,” he said, adding that he hopes they can become friends.
Military service is mandatory in South Korea, where almost all healthy men have to serve in the army for 18 months when they turn 28.
South Korea’s National Assembly passed a bill in 2020 that would allow pop stars – specifically those who are “excellent in the field of popular culture and art” – to defer enlistment until the age of 30.
In October, BTS’ record label said all seven members of the group were planning to serve in the military. bts BIGHIT Music is expected to reunite as a group sometime around 2025.
Jin’s duties will begin with a five-week basic training session before being assigned to a unit, based on standard practice.
Park Si-woo, 23, who has undergone training at the base in 2021, told CNN that Jin will likely stay in the barracks with about 40 other recruits sharing bunk beds.
Park said recruits will wake up around 6:30 a.m. to begin their daily routine, which includes physical exercises, plus combat and weapon training.
Rookies have to give up their cell phones, so Jin’s initial contact will be through letters that fans can submit online, which will then be printed and given to him.
One thing Jin and other rookies can appreciate is the food, Park added, “We were given a lot of snacks during training – beef jerky, buttered waffles, and drinks.”
According to the South Korean military’s website, after being incorporated into South Korea’s forces, Jin will be one of about 560,000 army soldiers.
BTS has become a worldwide superstar since their debut in 2013, winning number one single in over 100 countries, over 46 million Twitter followers and being awarded Entertainer by Time magazine. of the year in 2020.
They have also become an important part of South Korea’s economy – a 2019 study found that BTS contributed 0.3% of the country’s gross domestic product with $4.9 billion in sales.
Critics say BTS is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon.
Music critic Yoonha Kim said, “BTS’s position in this context is unique. “I think there is no need to say more. In fact, not only in K-pop but looking at the entire history of Korean music, no such group exists and it will be difficult for another group to appear in the future.”