Military Service in Korea and Why BTS Should Do it

BTS K-pop brand
K-pop boy band BTS members. Photo: @bangtan.official/Facebook

Kim Seok-Jin, or Jin, is the first member of the K-Pop group to start his military service in Korea. All of his bandmates will have to do the same thing. Before he went to a military unit for five weeks of training, the musician posted a picture of himself with his hair shaved and wrote that he looked “pretty than expected”. This is very much like him.

Service in the military in Korea (explained)

Since 1957, four years after the end of the Korean War, military service has been required in South Korea. The law says that “all citizens must have national defense duty under the conditions prescribed in the Act,” which means that all of the men in BTS will have to do it.

By law, when a South Korean man turns 18, he is signed up for his first citizen service, which means he must do his military duty but not yet serve. At age 19, they have to take a test to see if they are fit for the military, and by age 28, they have to be enlisted.

How long you have to serve in the military depends on which branch you are in. Active soldiers must serve for 1 year and 6 months in the Army or Navy, 1 year and 8 months in the Navy, or 1 year and 9 months in the Air Force. After their military service is over, they have to go to military training for 6 years, 5 days a week.

Other kinds of inactive personnel have different lengths of time. Social workers have to work for 1 year and 9 months, and people who work in sports and the arts have to work for 2 years and 10 months. However, doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, and people who do research have to work for 3 years.

The photo Kim Seok-Jin posted at the start of his military service. Photo: Instagram

Some artists and athletes who have won government contests may be able to work as arts and sports personnel. These people must work in their fields of expertise after they finish their military training to finish their service.

Even though there has been talk for a long time that BTS members might not do their service, it was announced in 2022 that Kim Seok-jin will be the first to do his service in Korea.

The members will take turns doing their military service and putting out songs from their own projects. Once everyone has done their service, they will start performing as BTS again. The meeting should take place in 2025.