BTS members’ pending military service again stirs a STORM in South Korean government; presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung raises concerns

BTS members were supposed to attend their mandatory military services expected of all South Korean males aged between 18 and 28 years, for a period of no less than two years, some time, but have constantly been granted exemption from the same, on account of their contribution to the Korean culture and economy as well as their hand in promoting the country on a global stage. In fact, there have repeatedly been demands to exempt Jin, J-Hope, Jimin, Jungkook, V, Suga and RM (the BTS band members) from military service altogether, granted what they’re doing for the country though their craft, and not only from ARMY (that’s what BTS fans the world over refer to themselves as), but also some leading individuals in the upper echelons of South Korean’s political circles.

The topic has stirred a hornet’s nest yet again after South Korea’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung raised concerns while responding to a query posed by Yonhap News Agency on the long-running issue over whether it’d be fair to exempt BTS entirely from their mandatory military service just because of how they promote the nation’s image overseas.

Lee Jae-myung said that mandatory military service is a public duty set by the Constitution and that the country needs to be prudent about granting exceptions. He agreed that BTS’ contribution to the nation can’t be denied, but the authorities also must be careful while granting exemptions because it’d be hard to draw the line if the scope of exceptions are expanded.

Lee made similar remarks in December2021, saying he would prefer deferring BTS’s military service to granting the members complete exemptions. For the record, exemptions have been granted by the South Korean government in the past to international award-winning athletes and classical musicians for their roles in elevating the country’s reputation overseas.

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