The mayor of Busan, South Korea, has submitted a formal proposal to the presidential office asking for an alternative to BTS’ mandatory military service.
Mayor Park Heong-joon proposes giving the seven-member boy group the option to act as public relations (PR) ambassadors for his city as they bid to host the World City Expo in 2030. The South Korean government already named the group as PR ambassadors responsible for promoting the Expo bid last month.
His request would be in line with the same special exemption given to athletes or classical artists who amplify culture or the nation’s prestige.
“I do not mean to give BTS the privilege of exemption from military service. If BTS is allowed alternative military service, its members will be assigned with national duties as heavy as military service and will serve the nation in their unique capacity” he says, before concluding with the fact he is “very well aware of the symbolic meaning of military service in Korea”.
The current law in South Korea requires all-able bodied men to enlist and serve around two years before the age of 28. A 2020 amendment that some have dubbed the “BTS law” allows those who received cultural merits from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to defer till age 30. All seven members of BTS were granted the country’s Hwagwan, or order of cultural merit, in 2018. Jin will be the first to enlist, as he will turn 30 in December.
Several notable figures have weighed in on the conundrum regarding BTS’ military service. Back in May, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism minister Hwang Hee also proposed an alternative service for the HYBE boy group given their worldwide impact.
Hwang said, “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.”
Last April, South Korean Ambassador to Britain Gunn Kim expressed his belief that the members’ military service would happen, but just this month South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup said in parliament that even if the artists do serve, they may still be able to perform overseas.
Feature Image via: HYBE Labels