Busan mayor floats alternative to military service for K-pop mega group BTS

  • Park Heong-joon, mayor of Busan, South Korea, has issued a formal proposal to the president’s office asking for K-pop superstars BTS to be granted an alternative to their upcoming mandatory military service.
  • He proposed BTS become public relations (PR) ambassadors for Busan in their bid to host the World City Expo in 2030.
  • Just last month, the South Korean government named BTS PR ambassadors to promote the expo.
  • BTS member Jin is first up to enlist as he will turn 30 in December.

The mayor of Busan, South Korea, has submitted a formal proposal to the presidential office asking for an alternative to BTS’ mandatory military service.  

Mayor Park Heong-joon proposes giving the seven-member boy group the option to act as public relations (PR) ambassadors for his city as they bid to host the World City Expo in 2030. The South Korean government already named the group as PR ambassadors responsible for promoting the Expo bid last month. 

His request would be in line with the same special exemption given to athletes or classical artists who amplify culture or the nation’s prestige. 

“I do not mean to give BTS the privilege of exemption from military service. If BTS is allowed alternative military service, its members will be assigned with national duties as heavy as military service and will serve the nation in their unique capacity” he says, before concluding with the fact he is “very well aware of the symbolic meaning of military service in Korea”.  

The current law in South Korea requires all-able bodied men to enlist and serve around two years before the age of 28. A 2020 amendment that some have dubbed the “BTS law” allows those who received cultural merits from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to defer till age 30. All seven members of BTS were granted the country’s Hwagwan, or order of cultural merit, in 2018. Jin will be the first to enlist, as he will turn 30 in December. 

Several notable figures have weighed in on the conundrum regarding BTS’ military service. Back in May, South Korea’s Culture, Sports and Tourism minister Hwang Hee also proposed an alternative service for the HYBE boy group given their worldwide impact. 

Hwang said, “Forcing globally recognized pop culture artists to halt their careers at their peak in order to serve in the military would cause a great loss not only to the country but also to the entire world.”

Last April, South Korean Ambassador to Britain Gunn Kim expressed his belief that the members’ military service would happen, but just this month South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup said in parliament that even if the artists do serve, they may still be able to perform overseas. 

In June, shortly after releasing their anthology album “Proof,” the group announced a temporary group break to focus on solo activities. Since then, member Jungkook dropped a collaboration with Charlie Puth called “Left and Right.” J-Hope released his solo album “Jack In The Box” and made history as the first South Korean headline performer at Lollapalooza. The group has also continued to promote some already produced activities such as their cookbook, new episodes of their “Run BTS” webseries and a song with Benny Blanco titled “Bad Decision.”


Feature Image via: HYBE Labels

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