BTS's Jin to undergo mandatory military enlistment, is Suga next? Heartbroken Army fears band will be disbanded

South Korean men are required to serve in the military for at least two years and they can only delay it till they are 28 years old, but Jin and Suga are both turning 28 soon

                            BTS's Jin to undergo mandatory military enlistment, is Suga next? Heartbroken Army fears band will be disbanded
Kim Seok-jin (Getty Images)

Is K-Pop band BTS' oldest member Kim Seok-jin aka Jin going to bid farewell to the band for some time? Will the band take a hit because of this? These are some of the questions haunting the Army right now. The clock seems to be ticking for the historic K-Pop band's 27-year-old member Jin, who is likely to serve in the South Korean military by the end of 2021, as reported by Soompi.

Big Hit Entertainment revealed this news in a September 2 statement which said that BTS members will undergo mandatory military service and also added the number of shares each member owns in the company. Big Hit’s biggest shareholder, Bang Si Hyuk, gave the seven BTS members 68,385 shares each, as per Soompi. Big Hit stated, "BTS consists of members born between 1992 and 1997 who are required to enlist as active-duty soldiers. It has been assessed that it will be possible for the oldest member Kim Seok Jin (Jin) to delay his enlistment until the end of 2021, based on the military service law."

The statement added, "To prepare for the risk of artists suspending their activities due to military enlistment, illnesses, or accidents, the company is continuing to expand the ratio of revenue earned through products that do not require direct participation from artists, such as merchandise and licensing and video content. To minimize the risk of reduced sales due to our core artists’ impending hiatus from issues including military enlistment, we are reviewing a wide variety of business options such as pre-produced albums and video content as well as a flexible operation of artists who are able to promote."

BTS performs during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest 2020 on December 31, 2019, in New York City (Getty Images)

The statement comes in the backdrop of Article 39 of the South Korean constitution where men are required to serve in the military for at least two years (depending on which branch they choose to join). They become eligible when they are 18, as reported in Refinery29. The law was put in place as a deterrent to possible threats from North Korea. The site further reported that as of August, laws regarding the maximum age to delay enlistment changed from 30 to 28. Further, though exemptions from service exist, they don’t apply to K-pop idols. These apply only for Olympic medalists, first-place winners at Asian games, classical musicians who win certain awards as well as ballet dancers, as per Refinery29. As a result, Jin has little time left to be enlisted for military because he will turn 28 this December 4.

K-Pop industry struggles with law

It has not been easy for the K-pop industry to contend with the challenges posed by military enlistment. This is majorly because the gaps in promotion can cause the public to lose interest in musical performances of the artists, as reported by Refinery29. This is why most of the management companies try to form groups with younger members, releasing music more hurriedly and engaging in other experimental methods to keep bands together once everyone has served in military, the site further adds. As for the K-Pop artists who are enlisted for the service, their career takes a halt for a brief period. In such cases, the idol groups lose momentum or don’t stay intact and possibly venture into individual careers.

V, SUGA, Jin, J-Hope, RM, Jimin and Jungkook of BTS attend the 2019 Variety's Hitmakers Brunch at Soho House on December 7, 2019, in West Hollywood, California (Getty Images)

The challenges posed by the enlistment is partly the reason why BTS have been working non-stop since their debut in 2013. The band has been on a tremendous journey since its formation and has released 11 full-length and compilation albums and two reissues, five EPs, and have also embarked on six solo concert tours, in addition to countless fan meet-ups and TV appearances. All this in such a brief period is indeed astounding. 

Will Suga be next?

BTS with its seven members — RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook — have been together since the group’s formation. However, after Jin goes for military service, the clock will start ticking again for other members such as Suga, who is also 27 and will turn 28 on March 9, 2021.

As soon as the news of Jin enlisting for the military dropped, BTS Army was heartbroken, to say the least. While some are of the opinion that one must respect the traditional laws of South Korean land and BTS must not be removed from the list, others are trying hard to delay BTS' military enlistment. A fan expressed their wish to watch a BTS concert before Jin's enlistment. "AAAAAAAAH SERIOUSLY. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO FEEL THIS IS INSANE. I JUST HOPE I'LL BE LUCKY ENOUGH TO ATTEND BTS CONCERT BEFORE JIN ENLIST. I'M SAD."


"Army's let's work even harder and stream. We have no time to Celebrate. If we manage to get BTS the Grammy nomination we will be able to make sure that Jin's military enlistment is delayed until he turns 30. So we will have another 2 yrs to spend with all 7 of them. Let's try #BTS ARMY."


A fan cited how popularity can save people from enlistment. "In Korea, people who have won excellent awards are exempt from the military. For example famous soccer players or musicians (not kpop). Bts is far more popular than those people yet they still go to the army because of the law. But since BTS has done so well, jin can be able to delay.” 


Another wrote in support of enlistment: "K, I’ve seen and heard enough... I LOVE BTS, I AM SO IN LOVE with Joon, Jin, Yoongi, Hobi, Jimin, Tae and Kook.... BUT Y’ALL just gotta stop with this talk about removing them from the enlistment to join the military... it is part of their culture.. RESPECT IT."


Some feel that BTS will be disbanded if such a halt due to the enlistment comes in their way. "I just realized BTS are gonna disband one day, and by the time Jin goes to the military and comes back more members are gonna have to go, and than by the time they come back, the others are gonna have to go."


Another concurred, "Since the NEWS about BTS Jin Military Enlistment was announced. I imagined All the members enlisting too. But a Sad thought or maybe a realization hits me. What if BTS is no longer Famous just like now? What if the members disband later on?” 


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