By Alyssa Serrano
After years of debate, Kim Seok-jin, the eldest member of global music sensation, BTS, has announced that he is in the process of enlisting in the Korean army, as per South Korean law, and that he and the rest of BTS will all have completed their mandatory service by 2025.
Big Hit Music, the company that BTS is signed under, announced that Kim (professionally known as Jin) would be enlisting in the Korean army approximately two days after BTS held a free concert in Busan, Korea. The concert was intended to prove why they should be exempted from service.
The announcement shocked fans and the Korean government alike, as Big Hit Music announced the enlistment before the government had a chance to decide if they would offer an exemption.
Jin recently released “The Astronaut,” a song written by both him and Coldplay, and will begin the enlistment process as soon as he finishes the promotions for his new song, says Big Hit Music.
The song was released Friday, October 28 at midnight and is a love letter to ARMY (which refers to BTS’ fans) and the other members of BTS. It thanks them for all of the support they have shown him and lets them know that he will return, as both the members and ARMY are his home.
ARMY, short for Adorable Representative M.C. for Youth, is the name BTS gave to their fans when they were just beginning, and is the name most people use when referring to BTS fans. ARMY is known for their large numbers, fierce dedication, and their loyalty to BTS.
In “The Astronaut,” Jin sings, “when I’m with you, there is no one else, I get heaven to myself.”
ARMYs flooded Tiktok and Twitter with love and support for BTS’ decision and made it clear that they would stand behind Jin and the rest of BTS as they go to fulfill their mandatory service, and that they would wait as long as it takes for BTS to return.
For example, in one tweet, an ARMY fan posted a photo of someone at a Coldplay concert that Jin was performing at holding a sign that read, “ARMY will wait for you.” This tweet alone got 45,000 likes.
In another tweet from ARMY, a twitter user discusses how many people assume BTS enlisting is the end for them as a group while ARMYs believe that this is still just the beginning of BTS’ long reign of the music industry.
For years, BTS had been waiting for a confirmation or a denial of an exemption from service, and their enlistment was a frequently debated topic among both the Korean government and Korean citizens. However, it is important to note that BTS never requested exemption from service. Rather, the government itself decided to debate it unprompted by the group.
In South Korea, it is expected that able-bodied men enlist in the army for about two years. However, in certain cases where an individual shows extreme merit, they may be granted an exemption. For example, Olympians have been exempted from military service for their achievements.
Many people in Korea believe that, although BTS are a very popular group, they should not receive any special privileges. Otherwise, other idol groups may try to get the same privilege, which could cause corruption in the system by encouraging people to become idols in an attempt to avoid enlistment. However, others believe that since BTS have brought so much money to the economy, it would make more sense to give them an exemption.
According to data from the Hyundai Research Institute, BTS were bringing in approximately $3.6 billion dollars to the Korean economy per year, as of 2018. A lot of this money comes from the tourism that concerts held by BTS generate, and so BTS’ absence will end up impacting the economy by a lot.
What will happen during and after BTS’ military service remains unclear at this moment, but it is clear that ARMY and BTS are firm that this is not a goodbye.
In their enlistment announcement, Big Hit Music stated, "‘Yet To Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)’ is more than a track from their latest album, it is a promise, there's much more yet to come in the years ahead from BTS.”