BTS members must report for military service, authorities say, despite calls to exempt them

BTS have spearheaded the K-pop march abroad, with their successful invasion of the American market.
BTS have spearheaded the K-pop march abroad, with their successful invasion of the American market.PHOTO: BTS/INSTAGRAM

If football star Son Heung-min can score an exemption from South Korea's mandatory military service, fans of BTS are adamant that the seven members of the boy band should enjoy that privilege too.

But the fans' hopes have now been dashed after the authorities on Thursday (Nov 21) decided not to grant exemptions to outstanding entertainers due to the shrinking pool of enlistees in the country.

BTS have spearheaded the K-pop march abroad, with their successful invasion of the American market.

According to Korea Times, the defence ministry has decided not to widen the pool of people eligible for exemptions.

Mr Lee Nam-woo, chief of the ministry's personnel welfare office, said: "We believe military duty will not hurt popular performers so critically that they cannot perform anymore (after they are discharged)."

Culture Minister Park Yang-woo said that "unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the selection criteria in the popular culture and arts fields, which makes it difficult to institutionalise (a waiver system)".

Currently, exemptions are given to those who win gold at the Asian Games or any medal at the Olympics, and classical artists who excel at designated competitions.

Son, who plays in England for Tottenham Hotspur, was in the national football team that bagged a gold medal at the Asian Games last year.

Now that the picture has been made clearer, Jin is expected to be the first BTS member to enlist in the army.