Will BTS be the first idol group to be offered military exemptions?
The boy group’s rise to fame has been nothing short of monumental. From an almost-unknown group from a small entertainment company, they’ve beat all odds and emerged as one of the most successful K-pop groups. There have recently been calls from fans to exempt them from the mandatory military service due to their achievements, and a Korean politician has brought up that possibility.
On 25th July, Korean politician Ha Taekyung called for a change in the military exemptions policy, citing a need to recognise the contributions by those involved in the arts and gaming industry.
During the general meeting of the National Assembly Defense Committee, he said, “There are requests for BTS to be exempt from mandatory military service, so I examined the list of international competitions that determines the exemptions and found that there is a problem in terms of fairness.”
He continued to illustrate the unfair situation, explaining that it was possible for those who win classical music competitions to be exempted for their military service, but those who hit number 1 on the Billboard chart are still required to serve.
“PSY set a new world record for YouTube views. He has an incredibly large influence on people throughout the world. However, the things that encourage our whole nation to dream and give inspiration to young people are not on (the military service exemption list) First place in a ballet competition is on (the list), but there’s no first place for b-boys on it. There are also none of the gaming competitions that are dominating in the world, and while the field of theatre is there, film is not,” he explained.
This garnered a reply from Military Affairs Director Ki Chan Soo, who stated that those exempted are selected through discussions with the Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. He did not give a definite answer, saying, “It is difficult if there is no national consensus. It will be reviewed so that it may be in accordance with reality.”
According to soompi, artistes who placed first or 2nd in renowned competitions or those who receive high grades in domestic competitions are given a chance to be exempted from the military. Meanwhile, athletes who have a media in the Olympics or placed first in the Asian Games are eligible for the exemption.