Under pressure to clarify its official position about the allowable range of performance after enlistment, the defense ministry said that BTS members shall be able to participate in group activities for public or national interest during their military service.
"Our position is to provide an opportunity to participate in an event for public or national interest," Moon Hong-sik, who serves as acting defense ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing on October 18, a day after the K-pop superstar gave up their preferential treatment to fulfill South Korea's mandatory two-year military service one by one, starting with Jin, the eldest member.
"I understand that such opportunities are still provided to some enlisted soldiers, and I'm not saying with a specific event in mind," Moon said, apparently being conscious of earlier remarks by Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup that BTS members will be able to participate in overseas performances for national interest while in military service.
The surprise announcement by BTS members who had been allowed to postpone conscription for military service until the age of 30 triggered widespread compliments and regrets among domestic and global fans. The label of BTS tried to soothe their mind by saying that BTS members hope to resume full-fledged activities in 2025, while those who are not serving in the military will do solo activities to minimize the impact of sequential military services.
Hybe's share prices were up 4.35 percent from a day ago to stay at 120,000 won ($84.1) in mid-day trading on October 18. BTS members have fallen into an awkward situation on and off because of a never-ending social debate over their military service. It has been an extremely sensitive social issue with military officials reluctant to give them special treatment for fear of a backlash from young men in the run-up to military duty in South Korea still technically at war with North Korea.
In South Korea, all able-bodied males who are 18 and older should complete their military service for at least 18 months. Those who are not physically or mentally able enough to serve are assigned as public service workers at administrative facilities. Olympic medalists are given an exemption, but there are no rules governing pop artists. In December 2020, BTS members were rewarded with the postponement of conscription for military service until the age of 30.
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