On Tuesday, K-pop star Jin started his 18 months of obligatory military service in South Korea, thus commencing a new and ambiguous era for BTS and its dedicated fans.
Jin reported to boot camp near his country’s border with their nuclear-armed neighbour, thus becoming the first of the BTS members to serve in the military. He is the oldest member in the group, so his enlistment marks a beginning; over the coming years, all six of his fellow bandmates will follow suit, causing a break in BTS’s performances for quite some time.
Jin, known by his real name of Kim Seok-jin, arrived at a training center which is used to deploy front-line troops in order to guard against North Korea.
Before being assigned to a military unit, he will complete five weeks of basic training involving shooting rifles, throwing grenades and marching drills.
Jin’s 30th birthday this month has sparked a country-wide discussion regarding whether he should enlist.
In South Korea, all males aged 18 to 28 are obliged to enter the military for at least 18 months. However, as a prominent K-pop star, Jin could delay his conscription until he reached 30.
South Korean law permits exemptions from compulsory military service for those who have the potential to elevate the country’s prestige, such as athletes, traditional musicians and, in more recent times, K-pop stars. This became a hot topic of conversation just before the announcement that the famous band would be enlisting in October last year.
While Jin is away from the band, the other six BTS members will work on their own projects. The reunion of all seven members is expected around 2025 when they have all finished their military service, according to their label Bighit Music.
Millions of BTS fans worldwide, known as the “army,” are deeply saddened by the group’s pause.