BTS to Enlist in South Korean Military


South Korean service laws require BTS members to enlist in the army, leaving fans to grieve the news and experts to assess the economic ramifications of their absence.

The group’s label, BIGHIT Music, broke the news on Oct. 17 that the musicians would have to complete 18-21 months of military service under South Korean law. While this is expected of most able-bodied South Korean men, there have been exemptions in the past for athletes and pop stars; however, with some members approaching the age of 30, they can no longer postpone enlistment.

“Since the creation of BTS over ten years ago, the band has risen to international success, broken records, and catapulted K-Pop into the global stratosphere,” the label announced on Twitter. “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.”

The group’s massive fanbase (dubbed “ARMY”) reacted with both understanding and heartache for the members’ circumstances. Fans are giving each other support during this time over social media platforms in order to cope with the news. 

“They asked us to trust them. So let’s trust them and wait,” Twitter user @winterbeartaete said in response to the announcement. “We love you, and we are proud of you, always. We will stay by your side, and keep supporting you until the very end.”

With BTS’ absence also comes potentially disastrous consequences for South Korea’s economy. Being a major source of revenue from both tourism and consumer goods exports, the group plays a crucial role in the country’s flow of commerce.

“In 2018, Hyundai Research Institute said BTS was contributing more than $3.6 billion to the South Korean economy every year—equivalent to the contribution of 26 midsize companies,” Fortune writer Chloe Taylor said in an article

BTS shareholders have also felt the financial pressure resulting from this decision to enlist, as they have the potential to lose millions in profit from the group’s hiatus. However, CEO of HYBE (BIGHIT’s parent company) Park Jiwon maintains that the company has the situation under control.

We will stay by your side, and keep supporting you until the very end.”

— Twitter user @winterbeartaete

“HYBE is perfecting its multi-label structure that can continue to create music and establish artists that can resonate with our fans,” CEO of HYBE Park Jiwon said in a letter to shareholders. “We are forging ahead with new projects such as platforms and games that can leverage new technologies bringing experiences to fans which, to date, have yet to be realized in the entertainment industry.”

Despite the unfortunate news, BTS has promised to return in 2025 following their military service, leaving fans excited for their reunion. 

“‘Yet to Come (The Most Beautiful Moment)’ is more than a track from their latest album, it is a promise,” the label said in their Twitter announcement. “There’s much more yet to come in the years ahead from BTS.”