The South Korean Parliament is debating a new amendment that would allow K-pop stars to do just three weeks of military training.
Lawmaker Yoon Sang-hyun recently proposed the amendment to cut down the training to three weeks instead of the current two years of full-time military service for all citizens. The outcome of the deliberations will be significant for BTS members who recently announced a break citing exhaustion as the reason.
BTS members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook during their Festa dinner in June spoke about why they wanted a break. RM had said while he enjoyed being in BTS, the group members now feel "exhausted" and he doesn't "know what kind of group we were any more". Jimin admitted that the group has been going through a "rough patch" as it is trying to "find our identity, and that's an exhausting and long process".
Now speaking to Reuters, Sang-hyun said that BTS took the break as the 'main reason' of 'waiting for parliament to decide has been hugely stressful' for them. "The members cited exhaustion and the need for rest as the main reason but the real reason was Jin's military service," said Sang-hyun.
He added that BTS raised the country's profile worldwide through "soft power" and it should be taken into account when considering their military service. "BTS has done a job that would take more than 1,000 diplomats to do," said the lawmaker.
South Korea's military service requires all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 28 to serve for about two years. Over the years, particular categories of men have won exemptions--either allowed to put off service for a certain time or allowed to do shorter service--including men who win a medal at the Olympics or Asian Games and classical musicians and dancers who win a top prize at certain competitions. Under a 2019 revision of the law in the country, globally recognised K-pop stars were allowed to put off their service until the age of 30.
BTS management company, BigHit Music, has maintained that the group members are keen to do their duty. In April, BigHit official Lee Jin-hyung told a news conference in Las Vegas that some band members were having a "hard time" because of "uncertainties" over the parliament debate. He called for a decision. When Jin was later asked about Jin-hyung's comments, he said he was letting the company handle the matter. He added that what the official said reflected his view.