BTS at White House sparks military enlistment debate again, Knetz say: 'Exempt them'
All healthy male Korean citizens have to enlist for mandatory military service in South Korea, including celebrities and artists like BTS
BTS just made South Korea proud by becoming the first Korean act to meet with US President Joe Biden personally and also give a speech for the AANPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) Heritage Month at the White House. The global K-pop group gave a speech on respecting ethnic backgrounds and reducing racism and race-induced hate crimes. BTS also spoke up as youth ambassadors and the importance of spreading positivity and hope in trying times. We also had Biden complimenting BTS for using their platform to promote important messages.
Well, with BTS’ impactful presence at the White House, Korean fans and non-fans were impressed and have reignited the military enlistment debate once again. While BTS is an idol group, they too like all healthy South Korean male citizens have to enlist for mandatory military service. But their influence has been evident even with the drafting law as it was amended to increase the maximum enlisting age limit from 28 to 30-years-old.
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BTS’ military exemption debate restarts
Since mid-2021 there have been reports that the Defence Ministry is discussing whether to completely exempt BTS from their military service. While the K-pop supergroup has shared in the past that they would fulfill their duties as Korean citizens and enlist, there have been many who are citing their national prestige that is enough to get BTS exempted. In the past, there have been Olympic athletes who have also been exempted from the military for enriching South Korea’s culture.
‘Treasures of Korea’
Previously, when the Culture Ministry had asked for the Korean male youths' understanding and compared BTS’ enlisting to a national loss, there had been much uproar. Knetizens felt it was unfair and shared that if BTS did not enlist, it would tarnish their image in their own country. But after witnessing BTS at the White House and being personally welcomed by the American President, many Knetizens have changed their mind.
One user wrote, “Okay, they should be exempt from military service! Seriously, I totally agree with BTS’ military exemption!” Another wondered, “This proves that it is appropriate to exempt them from the military, right?” BTS at the White House has become a hot topic on several Korean chat forums and even Korean Twitter as they were proud, “Wow, the President of the US knows more about BTS’ influence than our politicians!”
One Knetz posted, “They are seriously the treasures of Korea.. Which Korean can speak privately with the US President and go to the White House? You would never have imagined this before.” One user added, “We acknowledge that they are working hard to promote national prestige.” Another wrote, “Granting military exemption for BTS is a subject that the country should give full support and consideration. Obviously, BTS can still use their influence while in the military, but rather, I hope that they will enhance the national prestige through diplomatic activities on the international stage like now.”