BTS member Jin has officially started his compulsory military enlistment.
On Dec. 13, the 30-year-old idol entered a front-line boot camp in Yeon-cheon, South Korea, near the country’s border with North Korea.
There, Jin and other conscripted soldiers will undergo a five-week basic training program to develop skills in rifle shooting, grenade throwing and marching. They will then be assigned to army units across the country. It is expected that Jin will serve as an active duty soldier.
Jin reportedly entered the camp at 1 p.m. KST in an unmarked vehicle and did not get out to greet the small group of press and 20 or so fans who were there waiting for him. This tracks with his label Big Hit Music’s earlier statements regarding his enlistment day protocol. The label previously stressed that no official event would be held for his recruitment day as it “is a time to be observed by military personnel and their families only.”
His fellow BTS members, however, were granted access — they reportedly followed in their own unmarked vehicles to see their eldest member off. The official BTS Twitter account posted a photo of the K-pop icons, likely at the camp, with a caption that read: “Our bro!! Have a safe service!! Love you.”
A second photo showed the members touching Jin’s newly shaved head. Before leaving for the base camp, Jin posted a message on South Korean social media site Weverse, writing: “It’s time for a curtain call.”
To ensure the K-pop sensation’s safety, around 300 police officers, soldiers and emergency personnel were mobilized to maintain order.
Jin, who turned 30 on Dec. 4, is the first of the K-pop septet to enlist. Currently, all able-bodied Korean men must enlist for two years of military service before age 30, but exceptions are made for award-winning athletes and notable classical musicians. An amendment dubbed the “BTS law” was made in late 2020 to raise the age limit from the previous 28, allowing K-pop entertainers to apply for deferment if they have received government medals for cultural impacts and contributions. All seven members of BTS received the Order of Cultural Merit award in 2018.
In October, HYBE issued a statement saying they intend for all members of BTS to serve their conscriptions when the time comes. They aim for the group to reconvene in 2025.
The topic of BTS’ enlistment has been the subject of much debate from South Korean government officials, citizens and fans around the world. In October, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said it is “desirable that members of BTS carry out their mandatory military service.”
His comment was a response to a proposal from lawmaker Kim Young-bae of the Democratic Party of Korea, who wanted to revise the current provisions and expand the list of exceptions for military service to include pop artists who have made significant cultural contributions to South Korea.
In August, Lee suggested that even if BTS were to serve in the military, they should still be allowed to perform overseas. In April, South Korean Ambassador to Britain Gunn Kim claimed that it is “very much expected” that BTS would enlist. One month later, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee said BTS should be allowed an alternative to enlistment. The mayor of Busan, Park Heong-joon, suggested that instead of embarking on military service, the K-pop act could serve as PR ambassadors responsible for promoting Busan’s World Expo 2030 bid.