K-Pop stars of BTS plan to do military service, dashing fans’ hopes of exemption

Members of South Korean boy band BTS plan to do their mandatory military service starting this year and will only get back together around 2025, their management company said Monday.

The band’s oldest member Kim Seok-jin, known as Jin, will start his enlistment process as soon as end-October, Hybe Co. said in regulatory filings and on Twitter, adding that other members will follow based on their individual plans and that the timing was not definite. The group shocked their fans in June when they said they will take an indefinite hiatus to pursue solo projects, but fans hoped the government would exempt the superstar group from service. 

“Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment,” it said in its latest statement, which came after the group gave what’s likely to be their last concert for years on Saturday. 

BTS’ success has helped to bolster South Korea’s position as a cultural force and tourist destination, and polls show a majority of citizens think its members should be exempted from mandatory duty, which typically lasts about two years. Yet, exemptions are considered controversial in a country where privilege and threats from neighboring North Korea are major issues.  

Hybe’s stock has lost around 40% of its value since the group’s hiatus was announced in June. – BLOOMBERG