Should BTS members be exempt from military service? Korea can ask openly – National

Officials say South Korea may conduct a public survey to help determine whether to exempt members of K-pop boy band BTS from mandatory military service.

The issue of the seven members’ active military service has become a hot topic in Korea because the group’s oldest member, Jin, had to enlist in December, when he turned 30.

Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup told lawmakers he had ordered officials to carry out a quick survey. He said his ministry will also consider many other factors such as the economic impact of BTS, the importance of military service and the national interest in general.

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After his comments caused a stir, his department clarified in a statement that Lee had ordered officials to consider whether such a survey was necessary, rather than launch it immediately. instantly.

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It said officials were asked to research details including which agency would be responsible for a survey, how long it would take and exactly who would be surveyed. The statement said that if the survey were to be carried out, it would be conducted by a third organization, not by the department or related agencies, to ensure fairness.

The ministry said the results will only be one of many factors that determine the enlistment status of BTS members.

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By law, all healthy men in South Korea must serve in the military for 18-21 months under a conscription regime set up to deal with threats from rival North Korea. But the country exempts athletes, classical and traditional musicians, ballet dancers and other dancers from winning top spots in certain competitions because they are seen as having enhanced prestige. nation.

Those exempted will be discharged from the army after undergoing three weeks of basic training. But they were required to do 544 hours of volunteer work and serve in their respective fields of expertise for 34 months.

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Some politicians and others have called for the exemption to be expanded to include K-pop stars like BTS as they have also raised Korea’s international image significantly.

A separate survey earlier this year found that about 60% of respondents supported the exemption from military service for BTS members. But another private survey in 2020 found that 46% support exemptions while 48% oppose them.

© 2022 Canadian Press

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