South Korean officials are considering conducting a public survey to help them determine whether mega group BTS should receive an exemption from the country’s mandatory military service.
South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup reportedly ordered officials to conduct a survey as Jin, the oldest member of the septet, turns 30 in December. The country’s defense ministry later clarified Lee’s statement following online backlash, saying the defense minister ordered officials to assess if the survey is necessary rather than to launch it.
The ministry noted that officials were ordered to look into the logistics of the potential survey, such as its duration, its participants and the agency that would conduct it. They have reportedly decided that a third party should oversee the survey to maintain unbiased results.
To help reach a decision, officials are also reportedly looking into the group’s economic impact and overall national interest, among other factors.
Under South Korean law, men between the ages of 18 and 28 must serve at least 18 months in the military to fulfill their mandatory military service. People who have health issues, as well as notable artists such as athletes who have won medals in the Olympics, may receive an exemption.
In 2020, a revision of the country’s Military Service act – also known as the “BTS Law” – was passed to let K-pop artists postpone their military service until the age of 30.
Back in April, around 59% of the 1,004 respondents in a private survey conducted by Gallup Korea agreed that BTS and other top K-pop artists should be exempt from mandatory military service. South Korean Ambassador to Britain Gunn Kim claimed that it is “very much expected” that BTS will enlist, adding that he is “pretty sure they will fulfill their obligation to society.”
The following month, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang Hee said at a press briefing that the group should be allowed to take up alternative services given their global status.