BTS face several-year hiatus as members commit to military service

Members of the internationally acclaimed K-pop group BTS will take a break from their music careers to fulfill their mandatory military service, their agency BigHit Music announced on Monday. The news comes just months after the group announced a “hiatus” for members to focus on solo projects. 

“As each individual embarks on solo endeavors, it’s the perfect time and the members of BTS are honored to serve,” the agency said. “BigHit Music has focused to the milestone moment when it would be possible to respect the needs of the country and for these healthy young men to serve with their countrymen, and that’s now.” 

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Jin, the oldest member of the group who turns 30 in December, will be the first to enlist, the agency said. He will “initiate the process” at the end of October when he finishes promoting a solo song. Other members of the group will enlist “based on their own individual plans.” 

The agency said BTS would reconvene as a group around 2025. 

It was decided in 2019 that the band members would not be able to evade the responsibilities of South Korea’s military service, which is compulsory for all healthy men before they turn 28. Professional athletes and some celebrities can get exemptions from the service, and many had hoped that would be the case for BTS. 

Staff in the national culture and defense ministries tried to find a way to get the bands’ members out of serving, but military veterans were among those who balked, saying an exemption would be unfair. Ultimately, the Ministry of Defense decided not to grant any exemption. 

The news of their looming enlistments come just months after the group announced it would be taking a break for members to focus on individual projects. The group said that K-pop as a system doesn’t allow performers a chance to “mature,” because of the constant need to produce more music. 

“I think that’s why we’re going through a rough patch right now, we’re trying to find our identity and that’s an exhausting and long process,” BTS member Jimin said at the time. 

We’re each going to take some time to have fun and experience lots of things,” member Jungkook said in June. “We promise we will return someday even more mature than we are now.”  

It’s unclear how successfully the group will manage to re-emerge, however, as military service could alter the perception of its members, and public interest could simply wane. 

CBS News’ Jen Kwon in Seoul contributed to this report.

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