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BTS’s Jin starts military service in South Korea’s army



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SEOUL — K-pop singer Jin, the oldest member of South Korean supergroup BTS, began his military service on Tuesday, becoming the first in the band to do so — before the mourning of his millions of fans.

Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, was taken to the military area without stopping to see him off, “to prevent any accidents due to overcrowding,” his agency, HYBE , said. Authorities have set up a “situational room” to monitor for any potential safety hazards posed by crowds of fans expected to bid farewell to their superstar.

About 270 riot police were deployed and ambulances were stationed around the Main Recruitment Training Center, where Jin attended the training camp at a front-line department in Yeoncheon County on the border with North Korea.

BTS Jin enlists in the army: What you need to know about Korea’s mandatory military service

The enlistment of Korean celebrities often attracts fans, and journalists try to catch a glimpse of the stars before they leave the public eye for about two years. Many reporters and photographers have been waiting for Jin’s arrival since early Tuesday. However, fans were conspicuously absent after Jin told the “BTS Army” – the official name of the boy group’s fan base of millions of fans – would not be coming.

Instead, the training center is surrounded by colorful banners supporting the K-pop star, including one carried by giant balloons in the sky. “Kim Seok-jin, you are a universe to us,” one of the banners read.

Admission day at a training center is usually busy with new recruits and their families exchanging emotional goodbyes. The 30-year-old singer attended the training camp along with about 200 other conscripts, many of whom were younger than him.

All healthy South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 must serve at least 18 months in the country’s armed forces, but K-pop stars like Jin, who is recognized by the government, can defer their obligations until the age of 30.

The handsome K-pop boy caused a stir on social media before when he revealed his newly shaved head. The South Korean military maintains strict standards for grooming, including regulations on hair length. “It’s cuter than I thought,” he said in a message posted on the Weverse fan community on Sunday.

Jin will undergo a physically demanding 5-week basic training course before being assigned to a military unit. Military cadets learn basic skills such as marching, shooting, and throwing grenades.

The other six BTS members are expected to fulfill their draft obligations based on individual timelines. BTS, hailed as the biggest boy band in the world, plans to reunite as a group in 2025 after they complete their service. According to HYBE, they went to the border town of Yeoncheon with Jin to bid him farewell.

Jin made his solo debut in October with the hit single “The Astronaut”, which sold over a million copies.

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