Well-known South Koreans, such as the members of Korean boy band BTS or gamer Faker, may receive an exception to the mandatory military service. The army has already approved the proposal of MP Jeon Yong-gi. As a result, the proposal now goes to the plenary session of the parliament. If they give their consent, the law will be passed and “National treasures“Getting an extension of their military service.
The Defense Committee of the Korean National Assembly has approved Jeon Yong-gi’s proposal. That was about the postponement of compulsory military service for men who are seen as “National treasures“. The term refers to men who have made great contributions to South Korean culture or economy in their own way.
South Korea is one of the few countries where there is still mandatory military service. This means that every man between 18 and 28 years old is obliged to go to the army. This military service lasts at least 21 months (with the army or the Marine Corps) and maximum 36 months (for service as a doctor, lawyer, veterinarian or expert investigator). After military service, men are required to undergo several days of military training each year for a period of six years.
At the moment there are already some exceptions in force. These apply to award-winning violinists, pianists and ballet dancers, as well as Olympic medalists and gold medalists at the Asian Games. Anyone who wins a medal for South Korea has to undergo just four weeks of military training. Just like all other South Korean men, they have to attend the annual training courses. The football player Son Heung-min recently made use of this. Son plays for the British team Tottenham Hotspur, but won gold at the Asian Games in 2018, which allowed him to follow a shortened military service.
Exception for “National treasures”
But now Congressman Jeon Yong-gi has tabled a proposal to have more exceptions to the South Korean military service rule. This is not a shortened military service, but a postponement. As a result, the men in question do not have to start the service at the age of 28 but only at the age of 30.
“With this proposal we want to give the elite in the culture or art world the opportunity to postpone their compulsory military service. This concerns, for example, BTS or Faker, who have received an award from the minister of culture, sports or tourism. ”
BTS and Faker
BTS and Faker have put their country back on the world map, each in their own discipline. BTS does this by continuously breaking records in the music industry and growing into the biggest boy band of the moment. Faker on the other hand became world champion three times League of Legends and can still be part of the world top of eSports for a few more years. The military service could cause problems for both BTS and Faker. All seven members of BTS and Faker have yet to perform their military service. And that would mean a pause in their career.
For Faker it could even cause problems earlier. At the moment Faker is 24 years old, so he still has 4 years before he has to start his military service. But next year he may already have to deal with the measures regarding military service. Korean men over the age of 25 who have not yet completed their military service are only allowed to travel abroad under strict conditions. So that they could not use that trip to flee their military service. Because the World Cup League of Legends takes place in China, Faker may not be able to participate. Unless he gets an exception from the law.
Without exception, BTS would see their oldest member Jin leave by December 2021. Three months later SUGA is also due to start its military service. So, with the exception, they should not start their service until December 2023 and March 2024. BTS released their latest album “BE” today. You can read our review here.
It is not yet entirely certain whether the exception will actually materialize. The Defense Committee of the Korean National Assembly has already approved Jeon Yong-gi’s proposal. But now it has yet to be submitted to the plenary session of the South Korean parliament.