10+ K-pop idols who enlisted in the first half of 2023: BTS' j-hope, EXO's Kai, and more

BTS' j-hope, WINNER's Seungyoon, and EXO's Kai are among the K-pop idols who enlisted in 2023 so far. (Images via Instagram/ @uarmyhope, @w_n_r00, and Bubble/ @MR. KAI)

It has been six months since 2023 began, and the list of third-generation K-pop idols who enlisted for their mandatory military service is slowly growing. While it can be a sad time for fans, it is inevitable for Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28.

Depending on the type of service to be rendered, Koreans have to perform their duty towards the country for 18 to 21 months. While every person who serves does not need to actively participate in the military, all able-bodied men must go through the training.

Many idols like SHINee's Key and Taemin choose to become part of the military band, while others join the Marine Corps, Army, Navy, or Air Force. In special cases, Korean men are allowed to join non-active or supplemental (public) service, if their physical or mental health does not allow them to serve active duty. EXO's Kai and GOT7's JAY B are K-pop idols who enlisted as public service workers.

WINNER's Seungyoon and Mino and GOT7's Jay B and Jinyoung are among the K-pop idols who enlisted in 2023

1) NIK and B.I.G.'s Gunmin on January 26, 2023

Vocalist of B.I.G., Gunmin started his service in January 2023, uploading a video talking about his hopes and dreams a day before he enlisted. Despite not releasing any full-length albums till date, B.I.G. has an interesting catalog of EPs and single albums that includes 2019's Illusion in Korean and Arabic, which made them the first K-pop group to ever release a song in the language.

Gunmin is set to return in July 2024, with the other three members promoting in the meantime. In fact, J-Hoon, Heedo, and Jinseok recently completed a concert in Oman.

2) E'LAST's Seungyeop on January 31, 2023

Another artist to join the list of K-pop idols who have enlisted is Seungyeop from E'LAST. As a 1997-liner, he started his service earlier than most idols and will be discharged in August 2024. Seungyeop was the vocalist and visual of the group known as EBoyz previously.

It was the first K-pop group by E Entertainment, and their 2022 EP, Roar, peaked at number eight on the Gaon Charts. The eight-member group also released a single,Thrill, earlier in 2023.

3) GOT7's JAY B on February 2, 2023

Defying all expections, GOT7's JAY B became one of the K-pop idols who enlisted without letting his fans know. The leader of GOT7 did not make any announcement about his military service, and AGHASEs found out that he was serving on February 10, 2023, a week after he enlisted.

The rapper also prepared an EP, Seasonal Hiatus, before going to the military, with other content being slowly released as he completes his service as a public service worker due to a prior back injury. JAY B is set to be discharged in November 2024.

4) Golden Child's Y on March 20, 2023

Vocalist Y, whose full name is Choi Sung-yoon, started his military service in March 2023 and will complete the same in September 2024. Prior to debuting with Golden Child, Y was INFINITE's background dancer, even being mistaken for a member due to his visuals. He was appointed as the platoon leader trainee with actor Nam Joo-hyuk on March 31.

5) SF9's Jaeyoon on March 21, 2023

While fans of SF9 will celebrate the discharge of Inseong and Youngbin this year, they also witnessed Jaeyoon join the ranks of K-pop idols who enlisted in March 2023. He plans to join the military band after five weeks of basic training.

In addition to being SF9's lead vocalist, Jaeyoon has lent his voice to K-drama OSTs such as Thank you, My love from the series Click your Heart and My Universe from Love in Black Hole in which he had a lead role. The actor has also been part of several musical plays, such as Founded / Startup and Seopyeonje in 2021–2022.

6) WINNER's Mino on March 24, 2023

Rapper and variety show veteran Mino is also in the list of K-pop idols who enlisted in March 2023. He will serve as a social worker due to multiple injuries in the past. Apart from being a member of WINNER, Mino is a flourishing solo artist, having released three studio albums so far. Fiancé from his debut album XX is his most successful single, having topped the Gaon and K-pop Hot 100 Digital Charts in 2018.

7) MONSTA X's Minhyuk on April 4, 2023

Right before leader Shownu completed his service, Minhyuk announced that he would be the next MONSTA X member to enter the military. Joining the ranks of K-pop idols who enlisted in 2023, Minhyuk has been an integral part of the group, promoting it as an MC and variety show participant since 2018. With member Kihyun, he hosted an exhibition, Moment in November, showing his artworks and calligraphy in 2016.

8) BTS' j-hope on April 17, 2023

After Jin, BTS' j-hope is the second member of the group to become one of the K-pop idols who enlisted in 2023. Prior to starting his service, however, the Arson singer spoke to fans on livestreams and released a song, on the street (with J.Cole) as a gift. The rapper will wrap up his service by October 2024, and his return is greatly awaited by ARMY.

9) GOT7's Jinyoung on May 8, 2023

The second GOT7 member to start his service was Jinyoung. Among the K-pop idols who enlisted, he might be known for his roles in K-drama series in addition to his solo work outside of the group. He has had leading roles in Yumi's Cells and The Devil Judge and released an album, Chapter 0: With, in January 2023 to mark 10 years since his debut.

10) EXO's Kai on May 11, 2023

As EXO was gearing up for its first comeback in a while, Kai's sudden start of military service on May 11 threw fans for a loop. The Rover singer was meant to enlist as a public service worker in August, but a rule change forced him to abandon his plans to promote with EXO. However, Kai still managed to organize a fan meeting for EXO-Ls a few days before he joined the military.

11) WINNER's Seungyoon (or Yoon) on June 20, 2023

The captain (leader) of WINNER, Seungyoon or Yoon, concludes this list of K-pop idols who enlisted in 2023 till the month of June. As he started his service as an active-duty soldier, he will be discharged by December 2024.

Seungyoon made his solo debut prior to debuting as a member of WINNER. His single It Rains, peaked at number one on the Gaon Charts in 2013. Page, a solo full-length album, debuted at number three on the Gaon Album Charts in 2018. Yoon also holds multiple acting credits in K-dramas, including Prison Playbook, Voice 4, and most recently Tomorrow.

Apart from those mentioned above, FNC Entertainment band N.Flying's Cha Hun, Seo Dong-sung, and Kim Jae-hyun, and VICTON's Seungsik and Sejun are among the K-pop idols who enlisted in the first six months of 2023.

Most groups do not go on hiatus when members enlist, and some even announce solo projects, so fans do not feel the gap immensely. While it is impossible to fill the space occupied by the K-pop idols who enlisted, it is comforting for fans and other members that they have each other to rely on.

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Edited by Babylona Bora