ARMY to Army: BTS Joins the Military

Since debut in 2013, South Korean boy group, BTS, has become a global phenomenon. As the years go by, the members of BTS are nearing the age of military enlistments.


BTS Twitter

BTS members send off their oldest member, Kim Seokjin, who is the first to enlist in the South Korean military. Picture from BTS’ Twitter account

Leila Sheffey, Staff Reporter

The K-pop boy band BTS has trained and developed themselves into a global phenomenon. With the recent album releases of “Map of the Soul: 7′, “BE”, and “Proof,” their music has taken over America. According to Billboard, BTS has had six number one hits in the United States and 26 total songs on the Billboard Hot 100. They’ve created a massive fanbase, known as Army, in the United States who enjoy their hit English singles,”Dynamite”, “Butter” and “Permission to Dance.”

After debuting in 2013, the conversation around BTS has shifted from hit singles to enlisting in the South Korean military. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are expected to serve 18-21 months in the military to defend against the threat from North Korea. In the past, there have been some exceptions made for specific people, like athletes, actors, and idols and many people were wondering why BTS weren’t eligible for this exception, especially after generating an estimated $3.9 billion in economic value per year for the South Korean economy.

When the oldest BTS member, Jin, was asked his thoughts on serving in the military at a press conference in 2020, he said “Nothing has been decided yet, and this is a sensitive topic, but I believe that military service is a duty. If I am called, I’m ready to serve any time. And if things are decided, I will try to do the best I can.” The Army fanbase has been preparing for this day ever since.
Grayslake Cental Senior Nicole Perez, said “I felt shocked, but like, I wasn’t surprised…I felt like it was coming…their break that they said that they’re gonna take I was like, it’s coming. I knew it.” In June of 2022, BTS announced a break that they would be taking to fulfill solo projects until further notice. They reassured this was not the end but this still left many fans worried, since this was not the first time an extremely popular boy band had gone on hiatus; One Direction released a similar statement in March of 2015.

Throughout the years, BTS and the Army fanbase have developed a strong feeling of trust. On Oct. 17, 2022, BTS’ label Big Hit Entertainment announced that Kim Seokjin would enlist in the South Korean military. A month before Jin’s enlistment, he, alongside
Coldplay, Left fans with a goodbye song called “The Astronaut” that softened the blow and comforted Army. The day before his departure, he sent one last Weverse post before his service began, saying”Now, it’s curtain call time” which left many fans feeling som-ber.

BTS members currently not in the military have released a variety of solo projects. Kim Namjoon’s album “Indigo” released on Dec. 2 and Park Jimin’s collab with Taeyang of BigBang “Vibe” released on Jan. 13. On Jan. 18, Jin left fans a surprise by making a Weverse post while working in the military. He said “I’m enjoying my life. I’m posting a picture after getting permission from the military. ARMY, be happy and take care.” Fans were relieved and reassured.

With the amount of content released over the years and a significant discography, many fans in Army feel satisfied before BTS return. BTS has a legacy and fandom strong enough to keep them on the rise and remembered.