South Korea mulls survey on BTS' military service

The defence ministry may gauge public opinion in deciding on exemption for the South Korean boyband. PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL - South Korea's Defence Ministry may gauge public opinion in deciding whether K-pop sensation BTS could be exempted from mandatory military service.

Associated Press reported on Wednesday that the country's Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup said he has told officials to launch a public survey on the issue soon.

He told lawmakers that the ministry would also consider other factors such as the economic impact of BTS and the overall national interest.

However, the Defence Ministry clarified later that Mr Lee told officials to look into the feasibility of such a survey.

It said that the survey, should it be conducted, would be carried out by a third party, and not the Defence Ministry or related authorities, to ensure fairness.

In South Korea, all able-bodied men under the age of 30 are required to serve in the military for around two years as part of the country's efforts to deter any attacks by North Korea.

BTS' oldest member Jin turns 30 in December this year.

According to a Gallup Korea survey of 1,004 South Koreans aged 18 and older conducted in April this year, almost 59 per cent of the respondents were in favour of K-pop artistes carrying out an alternative military duty or be granted exemption from military service.

About 33 per cent of the respondents were against such a move, while the other 8 per cent did not respond to the question, The Korea Herald reported.

BTS announced in June that they were taking a break as a group to pursue solo projects.

The septet have just won Group of the Year for the fourth consecutive year at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday.

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