BTS Takes a Break to Fulfill Mandatory National Service

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K-pop supergroup BTS will take a break while members fulfill their mandatory national service in South Korea’s military. The group first announced a break in June 2022 for members to fulfill solo projects.

Almost all able-bodied men must serve in the South Korean military by age 28. Men are required to serve for 18 months in the army, 20 months in the navy, or 21 months in the air force.

While delays in service were previously allowed for artists, musicians and athletes, a 2020 addendum allowed pop stars who “excel in popular culture and art” to defer service until age 30. The 2020 law added exemptions for K-pop stars after BTS’s “Dynamite” hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, which made BTS the first South Korean act to debut at the top. At the time, the oldest member was 28, meaning the band would have had to pause while at the top of the American charts. BTS has since had six #1 albums on the Billboard 200 charts and were estimated to be worth $50 million. 

Of the seven members, Jin will enlist first, after his solo release schedule ends in late Oct., because his 30th birthday is this year. The other members are expected to fulfill their service during the group’s break, with BTS reconvening in 2025 to entertain their fans, the ARMY [“Adorable Representative MC for Youth”].

Discussion Questions

1. Should national service, whether military or civil, be required? Why or why not?

2. Should exemptions to national service policies be made for pop stars (or other artists)? Explain your answer(s).

3. If national service were mandatory, what would you do to complete the requirements? Explain your choice(s).


BBC News, “​​BTS: K-Pop Stars to Take Time Out for Military Service,”, Oct. 17, 2022

Soo-Hyang Choi, “K-Pop Stars BTS to Serve Military Duty,”, Oct. 17, 2022

Kim Tong-Hyung, “BTS to Serve Mandatory Military Duties in South Korea, Will Regroup as a Band in 2025,”, Oct. 17, 2022

Justin McCurry, “BTS Members to Do Military Service in South Korea,”, Oct. 17, 2022

Rhea Mogul, “K-Pop Group BTS Can Defer Military Service after South Korea Passes New Law,”, Dec. 2, 2020

Siladitya Ray, “BTS Will Reunite In 2025—After Doing South Korea’s Mandatory Military Service,”, Oct. 17, 2022

Yoonjung Seo and Amy Woodyatt, “BTS Members to Embark on Mandatory Military Service,”, Oct. 17, 2022