BTS' Jin Begins Military Duty in South Korea


BTS member Kim Seok-jin, also known as Jin, has began his mandatory military service required of all South Korean boys. By law, all able-bodied South Korean men must serve in the military for 18 to 21 months under a conscription system established to deal with security threats from North Korea. Technically, North Korea and South Korea are still in a state of war, having never signed a peace treaty to end the Korean War. 

Before Jin entered the military camp, he still managed to post what could be his last social media message for the next 21 months: “It's time for a curtain call.”

Photo by Jin.

The 30-year-old Jin is the oldest member of BTS. He is expected to do military duty for the next year and a half. But why is he serving at such a relatively late age? 

It’s not like there weren’t any concessions in the past: Olympic medalists, Asian gold medalists, ballet dancers, and traditional musicians from South Korea are traditionally excused from military service on the basis of their contribution to national prestige. K-Pop celebrities, regardless of their fame, do not have the same privilege. But in 2021, BTS and their fans helped change a very old law. 


BTS fans group aka ARMY, argue that BTS also contributes immense prestige to the nation. And that’s a very solid argument difficult to dispute. BTS has taken over the airwaves not only in Asia, but also in the U.S., where the group appeared on television shows, billboards, and even landed on a few glossy magazine covers, including Esquire. “Dynamite,” the group’s first English song, catapulted BTS to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100. 

The group has sold out all stadiums they performed in all over the world, and were invited to be the voice of the United Nations. BTS spoke at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly in 2021. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in of South Korea designated them as special presidential envoys to the U.N.

In 2021, a landmark revision of South Korea’s 1948 Conscription Law was passed, allowing K-Pop celebrities such as BTS members to postpone their military service until they are 30 years old. That revised law is all thanks to the immense global popularity of K-Pop legend BTS, and to public sentiment toward the group. 

Debates about mandatory military service in South Korea are still raging, with many seeing it as a rite of passage for the male population. Females are not required to serve but may volunteer. 

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