A new nationwide poll of 1,001 South Koreans found that a majority think that BTS should not be exempt from the country’s mandatory military enlistment.
Research company JOWON C&I conducted the poll on September 4, which found that 54.1% of voters thought BTS should carry out their upcoming military service. Forty percent of voters opted for giving the HYBE boy group an exemption of some kind.
The age group that most overwhelmingly voted in favor of enlistment came from the youngest of the bunch, at 73.2% of voters in their 20s. Following the 20s group were those in their 30s at 60.4%, 40s at 49.4%, 50s at 48.3% and 60s at 47.5%.
A majority of both men and women were also in favor — though only by a slight margin for women — at 58% and 50.3%, respectively. Politically, 63.8% of conservative voters, 52.3% of centrists and 47.3% of progressives were in favor.
This is the most recent survey regarding the hotly contested topic of BTS’ enlistment. The South Korean government announced plans to conduct their own survey on the matter at a parliamentary hearing last week but reversed their decision following backlash.
“The Ministry of National Defense will not arrange a public poll on the matter, nor making decisions on the issue of BTS’ military service solely based on the result of the poll,” they said in a statement.
Back in April, a private survey of 1,004 South Koreans conducted by Gallup Korea found that 59% thought that BTS and other top K-pop artists should be exempt from mandatory military service.
Various government officials have expressed their thoughts on the matter over the past several months. In April, South Korean Ambassador to Britain Gunn Kim claimed that it is “very much expected” that BTS will enlist.
A month later, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee said BTS should be allowed an alternative as “forcing globally recognized pop culture artists to halt their careers at their peak in order to serve in the military would cause a great loss not only to the country but also to the entire world.”
In early August, South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup suggested that even if BTS served in the military, they could still perform overseas.
Most recently, Park Heong-joon, mayor of Busan, proposed that BTS become public relations ambassadors for Busan in their bid to host the World City Expo in 2030, as an alternative to military enlistment. BTS is slated to perform a concert in Busan as part of their bid.
Currently, under the Military Service Act, all able-bodied South Korean men must perform two years of military service before the age of 30. Back in December 2020, the country passed a law to give BTS and other world-renowned K-pop artists the chance to delay military service, a change that some have dubbed the “BTS law.” Jin, the oldest member of the group, is approaching the cutoff age of deferment as he turns 30 in December this year.