Military service exemption for Jin?

SEOUL • With BTS singer Jin slated to report for military service soon, fans are worried whether his absence will loosen the Korean boy band’s hold on music charts worldwide.

But Jin, 26, could get an exemption, going by what a top government official said.

Mr Noh Hyeong-ouk, minister in the Office for Government Policy Coordination, raised such hopes last Friday when he noted that a review is needed to determine if K-pop stars should fulfil a military stint, reported Korea Times.

He feels an exemption could motivate artists and spur the country to become a cultural powerhouse.

Under South Korean law, military duty is mandatory for males and Mr Noh’s comments come after other officials said recently that existing exemptions would not be widened beyond prize winners of certain contests, mostly Western classical and Korean traditional music.

Athletes who win an Olympic medal or Asian Games gold are also exempted.

Mr Noh believes a review is helpful, given the fact that K-pop icons, such as BTS, are earning prestige for the country by conquering charts worldwide and also boosting Seoul’s tourism.

Son Heung-min, who is exempted after South Korea won the Asian Games football gold medal last year, arguably does more for the country’s image as a player with English club Tottenham Hotspur.

Other politicians have also lobbied for changes which, if they come about, will please BTS fans who have taken note of the threat from new boy band SuperM.

The latter recently topped the Billboard chart, replicating a similar feat by BTS.

But the devil is in the details, with netizens asking how the criteria for exemption would be decided to make it fair for all K-pop outfits.

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