Did BTS' hiatus affect their military exemption? All talks halted

Did BTS' hiatus affect their military exemption? All talks halted
BTS announced they would go on hiatus to focus on their solo careers which has made some leaders and industry officials unhappy (@bts_bighit/Twitter)

The decision on BTS’ military exemption was one that had the whole world waiting with bated breath. All healthy South Korean males till the age of 30 have to enlist in mandatory military service for a minimum of 1.5 years. The only ones who were exempted were Olympic champions and classical singers who brought national prestige. This meant that even our favorite K-pop idols had to go on hiatus while completing their military service. However, with BTS pretty much taking over the globe, fans and even officials had requested their exemption.

 In 2019, they had earned $170 million and in 2021, their net worth was over $100 million. While the Hallyu Wave had started gaining traction in the 2010s, BTS brought South Korea’s culture and economy to new global heights. Their impact was evident as the misinterpretation of their hiatus news had led to a massive drop of $1.7 billion in their company, HYBE’s stock prices. And so, it was no surprise when the country amended their drafting law so that the earlier enlistment age limit of 28 was pushed to 30 in 2020 when the eldest member Jin turned 28. 

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BTS’ military exemption talks halted

However, there has been much anger after it was revealed that BTS as a group would go on hiatus while the members focused on their solo careers. The Korea Singers Association chief had asked BTS to cancel their hiatus asking them to think about the Hallyu Wave. The National Assembly that was reconsidering the Military Service Act in favor of BTS was “bewildered” with an official of the ruling party claiming that the hiatus was a “shameful situation.” But it seems that the Assembly had anyway halted all talks for the last 7 months according to Korean media outlet Joongang Ilbo

Since mid-2021, the Defence Military has officially started discussing if BTS should be completely exempted from their military service. While the global K-pop group has often shared that they would gladly fulfil their duties as Korean citizens and enlist, many in their favor have asked for an exemption citing national prestige. Even the Culture Ministry had supported this decision by comparing BTS’ enlistment to national loss.


BTS at the White House had fans arguing that the group could promote national prestige better if they were exempted (@POTUS/Twitter)

This had created quite an uproar among fans of other K-pop groups who are globally popular, as well as the Korean male youth who found it unfair. While BTS’ exemption could very well be canceled over the officials being unhappy with the hiatus news, it seems that they will not take a decision due to backlash from the general public. The “fairness” protest from the male citizens who have already enlisted makes it difficult to create new clear-cut criteria of which artists should be eligible for exemption according to the ruling party.


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