The BTS Band Announces a Break for Military Service: When Will They Return?

The famous K-pop group BTS announced that its members will enlist in their country's army and meet again in 2025.

Image of the musical group BTS

Photo: IG-bts.bighitofficial

LatinAmerican Post | Erika Benitez

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Leer en español: La banda BTS anuncia pausa para prestar servicio militar: ¿cuándo volverán?

This Monday, through an official statement, Big Hit Music, the record label of the famous South Korean band Bangtang Boys (BTS), announced through its Twitter account that its members will temporarily leave the stage to fulfill the military service that in this country it is mandatory.

The announcement comes just two days after the band gave a free concert in the city of Busan to support South Korea's bid to host the 2023 World Expo. It was his last performance in a long time. The group will have to leave music for the next 18 to 21 months. “Both the company and the members of BTS hope to reunite as a group in 2025 after their service commitment,” the label said in its statement.

The first to enlist will be Jin (whose real name is Kim Seok-jin), the oldest member of the group, once he completes his schedule for the release of his solo work later this month. “The rest of the members of the group plan to carry out military service in relation to their own individual agendas,” adds the Big Hit Music statement. Thus, RM, Jimin, Jin, V, Suga, J-hope and Jungkook (the youngest, 25 years old) will pause their musical career after nine years of reaping successes and awards since their debut in 2013.

Read also: Military Service: the Bane of Celebrities In South Korea

Military Service in South Korea, a Sensitive Issue in Public Opinion

In South Korea, military service is compulsory for men between the ages of 18 and 28, due to the continuous threats that this nation receives. However, it is clear that the process interrupts the professional careers or studies of young people, and, therefore, it is an issue that generates quite a bit of controversy and has divided the country in recent years. While there are some who support the creation of exceptions, including some legislators, there are others, including the Ministry of Defense, who oppose the measure and consider that the requirement of military service contributes to social equality.

Under this same discourse, the question whether BTS members should enlist in the army, in addition to being postponed for a while, has generated great debate in South Korean society. In 2020, faced with public pressure to keep the band active due to the great impact it generates in its public, the National Assembly of Korea passed a law in which, for large contributions to the country, some “idols” would be allowed to postpone his military service until the age of 30. Thus, 2022 was the deadline for the band, as it was Kim-Seok Jin's 30th birthday.

The news has generated all kinds of reactions on the networks and in the different media, above all it has been a great bewilderment for its millions of fans. The Adorable Representative MC for Youth (ARMY), a vast fan club that follows the band from all over the world, applauded the group's decision, as they will improve their image within the country and will be able to return to public life and the stage once again. Once they finish their duty.

The success of the band is undeniable, it has broken several records and has won awards at a national and international level, they are the only “idols” of the K-Pop genre that have reached number one on Billboard (twice) and the first Asian group to become a global musical phenomenon. Hence, it is a hard blow not only for his fans, but also represents a considerable loss for the country's economy and the music industry.

According to a 2018 Hyundai Research Institute study, BTS was contributing more than $3.6 billion to the country's economy each year, which is equivalent to the contribution of 26 medium-sized companies. Likewise, the study indicated that they were the reason 1 in 13 tourists visited South Korea in 2017. Following the announcement, the stock price of Big Hit's parent company, HYBE, has fallen by 2, 5%.

Their return in 2025 will be one of the most anticipated cultural events in the world, and without a doubt, their fans will be waiting for them with open arms.

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