SEOUL – South Korean Defense Ministry appears to be mulling “alternative service” for K-pop sensation BTS, allowing them to prepare and perform internationally while serving in the military.
During a parliamentary session on Monday, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup stated that he is considering a variety of ideas for alternative military service for BTS, such as giving them time to prepare for performances and enabling them to hold abroad concerts.
“(The BTS members) should come to the military, and I believe there will be a way for us to give them the opportunity to practice as well as allow them to leave the country and perform anytime if they have overseas concerts scheduled,” South Korean Defense Minister Lee said in response to a lawmaker’s question about whether BTS should be allowed to continue performing for the national interest during a general meeting of the National Defense Committee at the Narita International Airport.
“Many people value military service, and I believe (BTS members enlisting) can actually assist them with their popularity,” Lee added.
Military Manpower Administration Commissioner Lee Ki-sik also stated that the administration is considering “many issues” of providing military service exemption.
“We are reviewing (the matter) within the context of alternative service,” Lee explained.
In South Korea, almost all able-bodied men in their twenties are required to serve in the military for approximately 18 months. Athletes and artists who have promoted national prestige, such as winning selected international honors or national contests, are eligible for an exemption and alternative service system.
All band members must complete their two-year military duty, with the oldest, Jin, required to enlist by the end of this year.