Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup and Military Manpower Administration Director Lee Ki-sik said they are “considering various aspects” regarding the military service of BTS.
At a plenary session of the National Defense Committee held on August 1st, Lee Ki-sik, the head of the Military Manpower Administration, was asked by Rep. Sung Il-jong, “Have you considered exempting BTS from military service in terms of national interests?”
In response, Lee Ki-sik, head of the Military Manpower Administration, said, “We are reviewing the situation from various aspects,” adding, “For now, we are looking at the overall alternative service.”
In this regard, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup also stressed that they are focusing on “a way to solve the situation inside the allowed field without touching the principle problems such as fairness, equity, and reduction of military service resources.” He was very cautious about the discussion on the application and expansion of military service exceptions to pop culture personnel.
Minister Lee also said, “I believe there will be a way for BTS to have the chance to practice and perform together overseas if they have schedules while serving in the military,” adding, “It can help raise their recognition level because people highly value military service itself.”
According to the Military Service Act, art and sports specialists who have contributed to the promotion of national prestige and cultural development can serve as art and sports agents instead of doing military service. However, under the current law, pop culture and arts personnel are not subject to military service exemption. However, as the cultural and economic ripple effects of popular culture and arts have recently widened, some argue that the equality of military service benefits should be guaranteed without any discrimination.
In particular, BTS not only recorded many first records for South Korea at the U.S. Grammy and Billboard Awards, but also played a role as a “civilian diplomat” in the international community with many different social activities, for example, their White House meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden.
BTS will also appear as a goodwill ambassador for the 2030 Busan World Expo and take the lead to promote the event. They will become an official ambassador and attract more attention from people around the world.