South Korea has passed a law that will allow members of the K-pop group BTS to postpone their military enlistment until they are 30 years old.
In South Korea, all men who are healthy enough to go are required to enlist and complete mandatory military service between the ages of 18 to 30 years old. As the service is expected to take up to two years, the final age that men can enlist is 28.
However, the band’s international success has led the country to pass an amendment to its Military Service Act that will allow artists who have made a positive impact on South Korea’s reputation to delay their enlistment for two years longer than the average person.
According to Yonhap, the change made means that pop stars can delay their enlistment until they are 30 if they have made significant contributions to South Korea’s global reputation.
The delay to an eligible person’s enlistment can only come on the culture minister’s recommendation.
The discussions in parliament started after BTS got to No. 1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart with their song “Dynamite.” The government expects the song to generate up to $1.5 billion for South Korea’s economy.
In 2018, BTS was honored with an Order of Cultural Merit medal, which was given to the group for spreading the Korean language and culture.
The eldest member of BTS, Jin, is turning 28 on Dec. 4, which means the amendment was passed just in time to allow him to delay his military service for two years if he chooses to do so.
At a press conference marking the release of BTS’s latest album, BE, Jin was asked about military service to which he said, “If there’s a call from my country and the timing is right, I will accept [the duty] at any time.”
“It’s something all the members often talk about, and all of us plan to accept military service,” he added.
Prior to the amendment, only those in sports and classical music were able to defer or become exempt from military service.
In 2018, Son Heung-min, a 28-year-old footballer for South Korea’s national team and Tottenham Hotspur, became exempt from enlistment after being on the team that won in the final Asian Games match against Japan.
His exemption meant that the required two-year enlistment became reduced to four weeks, which he started in April this year after isolating for two weeks. He has since completed it and has returned to playing football in the UK.