Conscription for K-pop stars BTS ‘desirable’

The South Korean military appears to want to call up members of K-pop supergroup BTS for mandatory duties, as public opinion remains sharply divided over whether to grant them exemptions.

ee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, told lawmakers on Friday it was “desirable” for BTS members to perform their military duties to ensure fairness in the country’s military service.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup made almost identical comments about BTS at a parliamentary committee meeting, and Culture Minister Park Bo Gyoon said his ministry would finalize its position on the issue soon.

Whether the band’s seven members will have to serve in the army is one of the hottest questions in South Korea, as their oldest member, Jin, may be drafted early next year after turning 30 in December.

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Lee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, right, addresses a parliamentary committee (Korea Pool/Yonhap via AP)

Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are required to do 18 to 21 months of military service.

However, the law provides special exceptions for athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers who have won top prizes in certain competitions that enhance national prestige.

Without a revision of the law, the government can take steps to grant special exemptions, but previous exemptions for people who have performed well in non-designated competitions have sparked serious debates about the fairness of the system.

Because the draft forces young men to interrupt their careers or studies, circumventing military duties or creating exemptions is a highly sensitive issue.

In a recent poll, about 61% of respondents supported exemptions for entertainers like BTS, while in another, about 54% said BTS members should serve in the military.

Several amendments to the draft law that would pave the way for an exemption for BTS members have been tabled in the National Assembly but not voted on as lawmakers are sharply divided on the issue.

Previous moves by the government to potentially exempt BTS have sparked a public backlash.

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Mr. Lee, the defense secretary, previously said he had ordered officials to consider conducting a public survey to determine whether to grant BTS exemptions. But the Department of Defense later said it would not conduct such a survey.

In August, Mr Lee said if BTS members join the military, they are likely to be allowed to continue practicing and join other non-serving BTS members on group tours overseas.

Conscripts are released from military service after three weeks of basic training.

They must also do 544 hours of volunteer work and serve 34 months in their professional field.

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/music/military-conscription-for-k-pop-stars-bts-desirable-42048492.html Conscription for K-pop stars BTS ‘desirable’

Fry Electronics Team

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