‘Sense of pride’ in BTS ARMY as K-pop stars head for military service

Special ‘Sense of pride’ in BTS ARMY as K-pop stars head for military service
Fans of BTS gather outside Monumental Stadium to listen to Kim Seok-jin, aka Jin, perform his solo single ‘The Astronaut’ accompanied by Coldplay, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Oct. 28, 2022. (AFP)
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Updated 09 November 2022

‘Sense of pride’ in BTS ARMY as K-pop stars head for military service

‘Sense of pride’ in BTS ARMY as K-pop stars head for military service
  • Big Hit Music label says band set to reconvene as group ‘around 2025’
  • Oldest BTS member Jin expected to enlist before turning 30 in December

JAKARTA: After uncertainty over the prospect of mandatory military service for the world’s biggest K-pop band, BTS fans were filled with pride and optimism as they looked ahead to what the next few years would bring for each of the group’s members.

All South Korean men are required to enlist by the age of 28 and must serve for a minimum of 18 months.

BTS’ oldest member, Kim Seok-jin, known as Jin, was initially set to conscript by December 2020, but the South Korean government created a new exception just three days before the artist’s 28th birthday.

The so-called BTS Law allows K-pop stars, who are significant contributors to the country’s economy and have been awarded the Hwagwan Order of Cultural Merit, to postpone their service until the age of 30.

Jin is expected to enlist before he turns 30 on Dec. 4 and in late October released his solo single “The Astronaut,” co-written by British rock band Coldplay, in a farewell to fans.

Other members of the band, who are also in their late 20s, are expected to soon follow in his footsteps.

Their label, Big Hit Music, has announced that the septet will reconvene “as a group again around 2025” after completing military service. Until then, some of its members will pursue solo projects.

Millions of dejected BTS fans, known as ARMY, have been expressing their grief on social media, but many also believe that this will be a chance for the band to grow as artists.

“When I got to know BTS will go to do their military service, I felt a bit of relief,” Alice Kim, a 28-year-old ARMY member from Gyeonggi-do province in South Korea, told Arab News.

“It is sad that we are not likely to get a new BTS album in the next few years. However, it is exciting to see them pursuing their solo careers. We are ready to appreciate their works as solo artists.”

Also known as the Bangtan Sonyeondan, or Bulletproof Boy Scouts, the K-pop group debuted in 2013 and is now one of the music industry’s most profitable set of artists.

They have risen to global fame and influence in the last decade with their upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering the younger generation.

“In my opinion, BTS will grow and develop as an artist during the next few years,” Kim said. “I will keep an eye on them and happily see how they become great artists.”

Aparmita Das, a 27-year-old ARMY member from Meghalaya in northeast India, said the boys’ news of enlistment had “filled all ARMYs with a deep sense of pride.”

“We are all heartbroken but at the same time proud, hopeful, and excited about each member’s solo projects. 2025 is not far away,” Das told Arab News.

“BTS is one, but they are also seven distinct individuals, each with their own personalities, and they must each discover their particular skills, interests, and dislikes.”

Others, such as Jakarta-based ARMY member Agnes Anya, are going to spend the period the superstars will be performing their military service on saving money to watch them live as soon as they reunite.

“Right now, me and my ARMY friends are saving up together,” she said.

“Our aim is to give each other peer pressure to save up enough money to watch BTS together in Korea in 2025.”