Noh Hyeong Ouk, minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, confirmed on October 18 that a comprehensive review concerning the exemption of military service obligations for K-pop stars such as BTS is pending.
The convincing argument that BTS deserves the award has raised questions about the overall legitimacy of the existing law
A Member of the Democratic Party, Kim Byung Wook, suggested that "the standards of military service exemption must change according to the phases of times" and "pop music practitioners should be included among the subjects of such privilege."
"BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan) has ranked first place in America's Billboard Charts multiple times. Their economic effect reaches 5.6 trillion won, approximately 850 million dollars (USD). This is enough to name them the youngest laureates of the Order of Cultural Merits," he said. "They've greatly contributed to enhancing national prestige."
With these reasons backing his claim, Kim asked that the Office for Government Policy Coordination consult with the Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Culture and Sports, Military Manpower Administration, and others to consider the change in policy. Minster Noh responded that they will indeed work with the concerned parties to "comprehensively evaluate whether the realm of 'arts' should apply only to the fine arts" like the status quo.
Under the current military service law, military service exemption applies to those that check any of the following boxes: any medal winners at the Olympics, first and second rankers at international arts competitions, and gold medalists at the Asian Games or domestic arts competitions. The art competitions listed are unfortunately restricted to the fine arts and thus, pop music artists such as BTS do not fall in the category.
Just last month, a source mentioned that "there is a high chance that the members [of BTS] will be enlisted [in the military] all at once." The boys said in a CBS Sunday Morning interview that they are ready to serve their country.
By Jackie Park and Bongbong email@example.com