What Is the 'BTS Bill,' New Law Aimed at K-Pop Stars?
The new legislation, which comes days before BTS member Jin's 28th birthday, will allow some K-pop stars to delay their mandatory military service.
South Korean lawmakers passed a bill Tuesday that could allow K-pop stars to postpone their mandatory military service in order to continue pursuing their musical careers. This comes as the members of award-winning boyband BTS, the phenomenon behind “Dynamite,” approaches the age of conscription.
Previously, all South Korean men had to serve in the country’s military for at least 18 months beginning before their 28th birthday, which led to the indefinite hiatus of many K-pop boybands like BIGBANG and Super Junior at the height of their career.
The law change, which passed by an overwhelming majority vote, will now allow exemptions for K-pop entertainers who have won awards thus elevating Korean culture abroad, which allows them defer their service by two years, extending the deadline to begin their military service to their 30th birthday.
BTS has undeniably elevated Korean culture abroad by clocking their third Billboard No. 1, and winning six MTV Video Music Awards, four American Music Awards, four Billboard Music Awards and countless other recognitions around the world. They have also teamed up with musicians like Nicki Minaj, Halsey and Lil Nas X.
The legislation comes just in the nick of time, as BTS’ Jin prepares to celebrate his 28th birthday this coming Friday. BTS’ Suga turns 28 in March of next year.
South Korea is still technically at war against North Korea, and mandatory military service, which has been in place since 1957 and upheld by the South Korean constitution, is seen as a noble and cornerstone part of Korean society.
Some Koreans deemed not in good health, including diabetics, can be exempted from military service, or choose to complete their service through non-active duty. Koreans of certain professions, including top athletes and classical musicians, can also apply for an exemption.
Before the passage of the legislature, members of BTS were told in October they would not be receiving an exemption, according to The Korea Herald. Last year, Jin had spoken out for the importance of military duty in Koran life, “As a Korean, it’s natural. And some day, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best,” he told CBS Sunday Morning.
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