K-Pop Band BTS’s Jin Begins Mandatory Military Service

Jin of K-Pop band BTS begins his mandatory military service

Jin will begin five weeks of training on Tuesday, the military said.

Yeoncheon, South Korea:

BTS star Jin began his mandatory military service in South Korea on Tuesday, the first member of the band to enlist since announcing a hiatus this year that left fans heartbroken. against the uncertain future of K-pop artists.
The Septet is considered by many to be the country’s biggest-ever cultural phenomenon — selling out at stadiums around the world and dominating the charts while grossing billions of dollars and build a global army of fans called ARMY.

But all healthy men in South Korea must serve at least 18 months in the military, and while there has been a years-long debate about whether BTS deserves an exemption, they confirmed in October that all members will be enlisting.

Jin – whose full name is Kim Seok-jin – will begin a five-week training session on Tuesday, the military said.

Hundreds of media staff and BTS fans gathered at an intersection in front of the main gate of the training camp in Yeoncheon, where a sign reads “Cradle for top fighting soldiers”, waiting for the arrival of the media. Jin’s scheduled appearance at 2:00 pm (GMT 05:00).

Veronique, a 32-year-old supporter from Indonesia, said: “We have mixed feelings today because on the one hand, it’s normal for him to enlist in the army because it’s an obligation for anyone anyway. Which Korean men?”

“But on the other hand, we couldn’t see him for at least 18 months… Happy, sad but also proud,” she said.

The location of Jin’s training camp near the border with North Korea, where the South is still in a state of war, has sparked speculation in the local media that he is expected to be deployed to a “frontline unit” after training.

Fans were stunned in June when BTS revealed that they would be taking a hiatus from activities citing exhaustion and pressure as well as the desire to pursue a solo career.

But analysts say the announcement comes at a strategic time because of mandatory military service.

The group will reunite around 2025, when the seven members have completed their service.

“There was a time when it was true that there were a lot of fans who spent days just crying,” one South Korean fan, who runs the Twitter account @5heterotopia, told AFP.

Nimah Mustafa, a 20-year-old fan in Dubai, added: “(Jin’s absence) will be like a… big void for me.”

South Korea exempts some elite athletes from obligations, such as Olympic medalists and classical musicians, but pop stars are not eligible.

However, BTS has benefited from the 2020 amendment to the military service law that increased the enlistment period for some entertainers from 28 years old to 30 years old.

Jin, the oldest member of BTS, turned 30 on December 4.

– ‘They will not be forgotten’ –

The shocking changes to BTS in 2022 have fueled feverish speculation among K-pop fans and followers about the group’s future – will they keep their fame or struggle. to revive that success?

Some K-pop male stars have struggled to continue their careers after serving in the military in a cutthroat industry where artists are easy to replace.

“For the K-pop industry, the withdrawal of BTS will be a big deal,” Lee Taek-gwang, a professor of communications at Kyung Hee University, told AFP.

“During their hiatus, they may lose public interest and the drop in popularity will damage their business. It won’t be easy for the boy group to reunite.”

However, other experts have pointed to the resounding success of BTS and said they will be an exception to that trend.

Lee Ji-young, a BTS expert and professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, said they “have gained another level of popularity, influence and credibility”.

“So they won’t be forgotten by other artists in the highly competitive K-pop industry,” she told AFP.

Since their debut in 2013, BTS has been widely recognized as having done more than any other diplomat or celebrity to enhance the image and soft power of Korea, which is today recognized considered a global cultural powerhouse.

They have been invited to speak at the United Nations and meet US President Joe Biden at the White House. They are also the official ambassadors bringing the World Expo 2030 to Busan, South Korea.

The Korean government has recognized that BTS has brought billions of dollars to the economy.

– Deploying ‘frontline’? –

But despite that success, a draft proposal to grant them a service exemption caused too much controversy and was never approved by parliament.

“In South Korea, military service is an expression of egalitarianism… (there) all men are equal,” Lee at Kyung Hee University told AFP, adding it was the “necessary” symbol of citizenship.

Jin was supposed to join a “frontline unit” stationed near the border.

“It shows the role of culture and public opinion in shaping international affairs. Is this ‘frontline’ role fighting or is it about public relations and media?” Sarah Keith, a senior lecturer in media and music at Macquarie University, told AFP.

On Monday, Jin posted a photo of himself with his military-style haircut on Korean social media platform Weverse, with the caption, “It’s cuter than I expected.”

(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)

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