BTS not seeking military exemption says a lot about their character

By Angelina Padilla-Tompkins, Opinion Columnist

Famous South Korean boy band BTS has recently announced a break from performing due to mandatory military service. The fact that the band members aren’t seeking military exemption is truly admirable. 

It was announced on Oct. 17 by BTS’ management company Big Hit Music that the band would be participating in mandatory military service, with band member Kim Seok-jinbeing the first to join. He will join by the end of the month once his solo album is released. 

“Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment,” Big Hit Music said. 

While military service is mandatory for all capable men, the South Korean government has granted individuals exemptions in the past. 

“Under South Korean law, most able-bodied men are required to perform 18-21 months of military service, but special exemptions had been granted for athletes and artists who excel in certain international competitions that have been tied to national prestige,” reported PBS

BTS would undoubtedly be granted an exemption if they wished for it, especially since their global success has granted the country an additional $5 billion a year according to NPR

While fans are saddened by the news of not receiving new music for a while, this decision likely saved BTS from having public opinion turned against them at home. 

Other citizens of South Korea have no other option but to dedicate 18-21 months of their lives to the South Korean military. It wouldn’t be fair if someone else used their status to be excused from their duty, even if they are a member of a famous boy band. 

There have been many celebrities from the United States who served in various branches of the military. 

Iconic singer Elvis Presley was drafted into the Army during the Vietnam War. By this time, Presley was already a household name. Fans wrote thousands of letters to the U.S. Army requesting to grant him an exemption, but Presley had already made up his mind and he was going, explained History

Many other well-known names served in the military, including Chuck Norris, Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood and Adam Driver.

BTS planning to fulfill their duties to their country, even as pop stars who might seem untouchable to regular people, speaks volumes about their character.