While the advent of 2023 will bring news of several K-pop idols enlisting, there is much to celebrate because those who have finished serving will also return. After 18-21 months in the military, several K-pop idols are set to be discharged from service.
The type of service rendered and branch of the military chosen by conscripted men often determine the number of days they must serve. Those in the Army and Marine Corps would have to serve for 18 months, while those in the Navy and Air Force would need to serve for 20 and 21 months, respectively.
If the person serving is eligible for non-active or supplemental services, the period of service is 21 months. For instance, K-drama and actor Lee Jong-suk opted for public service under this provision due to his ligament injury, while SHINee's Taemin transferred from being an active duty soldier due to his mental health.
MONSTA X's Shownu, EXO's Baekhyun and eight other K-pop idols set to return after military service next year
K-pop idols usually delay their enlistment until the end of their twenties so as to build a lasting career in the industry and a fanbase that would not mind waiting for their favorite artist to return after serving in the military. Groups such as EXO, SHINee, MONSTA X, etc. have been functioning without the members who enlisted, using the time to release solo albums or work on dramas.
Here are 10 K-pop idols who will return to their groups in 2023.
1. EXO's Baekhyun
Leader of SM Entertainment's super-group SuperM and vocalist of EXO, Baekhyun enlisted on May 6, 2021, which coincided with his birthday that year. With a flourishing solo career that allowed him to delve into different genres and explore his varying musical tastes, Baekhyun made sure to leave fans with content during his period of enlistment.
The singer also created a tradition of social media updates for fans while serving, allowing EXO-Ls to feel connected despite the distance. Baekhyun is set to return by February 2023, reuniting with EXO members who have recently started to release more content, sparking rumors of a comeback this year.
2. BLOCK B's P.O
BLOCK B's rapper, who also happens to be an actor with credits in shows such as Hotel Del Luna, will complete his military service next year as well. After enlisting in March this year, P.O became the K-pop idol group's last member to complete his duties. As an active soldier, Pyo Ji-hoon will have to serve 18 months and is expected to return by September 2023.
3. MONSTA X's Shownu
The leader and main dancer of MONSTA X, Shownu announced his military enlistment in July 2021, and is currently serving as a public service worker due to a previous retinal surgery. As part of the Starship Entertainment-led group, the K-pop idol has released nine studio albums, eleven EPs, and several singles.
Apart from multiple guest appearances on television shows, Shownu starred in Urban Myths, a film about the horrors of everyday life. The MONSTA X singer will be discharged from his service by April 2023.
4. DAY6's Young K
DAY6's bassist, vocalist, and rapper, Young K, enlisted in the KATUSA branch of the Korean military on October 12, 2021, and was recently promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Apart from his work with the band, the musician released a solo EP titled Eternal, a month before he was due to enlist.
Young K also participated as a songwriter for a majority of DAY6's discography, including DANCE DANCE, Zombie, and My Day. He is set to be discharged from the military in April 2023.
5. DAY6's Dowoon
The K-pop idol band's drummer enlisted in the military in January of this year, making him the third member of DAY6 to fulfill his duty. Apart from playing the drums, Dowoon often acts as the sub-vocalist, with lines in famous numbers such as Beautiful Feeling, Dance Dance, and Everybody Rock.
Dowoon also came up with a solo album following Young K in September 2021. Titled Out of the Blue, the single is a nostalgic duet with Song Hee-jin, in which the narrator looks back at several instances from their life that have made them the person they are.
6. DAY6's Wonpil
Another member of DAY6 who enlisted in March 2022, Wonpil will complete his service in the second half of 2023, which would complete the band. As the keyboardist of DAY6, he has also participated in songwriting, arranging, and composing of multiple tracks.
The K-pop idol released his full-length solo album in February this year, before putting on a few concerts to promote himself. Titled Pilmography, a pun on his name, the album has ten tracks and peaked at number 10 on the Gaon Circle monthly charts.
7. SF9's Inseong
Another K-pop idol who enlisted earlier this year is SF9's main vocalist, Inseong. He joined the military band, which many fans considered to be in his forte as an extrovert. Apart from his duties as the main vocalist, the singer has been part of several variety shows and is considered the face of the group when promoting on Korean shows.
Inseong has also taken part in several K-dramas including Click Your Love, Was it Love, and most recently Two Universes. The SF9 member recently went viral for his dance cover of NewJeans' Hype Boy dressed in military gear. He is set to return in the second half of 2023.
8. SF9's Youngbin
The leader of SF9, who enlisted after Inseong, will also be returning from the military in 2023. The K-pop idol recently used his vacation time to visit the concert and support his members, which made fans feel sentimental at his ability to put SF9 over resting while in the military.
Youngbin is set to return in the second half of next year, and meanwhile, he prepared a lot of content to keep fans entertained during his time in the Navy.
9. SHINee's Taemin
As one of the youngest among the second-generation K-pop idols, sending Taemin off to the military was emotional for a lot of fans. He enlisted in May 2021. It was announced in April of this year that, though earlier registered for active duty, the SHINee member would complete his duties by doing public service after his symptoms of depression and anxiety worsened.
His transfer raised many important questions about the fate of celebrities in the military, and whether the fame enjoyed by K-pop idols may lead to additional stressors while serving. Although Taemin was supposed to return in 2022, the change in service might mean that his discharge date gets postponed to the first half of 2023.
10. ASTRO's MJ
The first member of Astro to enlist in the military, MJ started his service in May 2022, and is expected to return in the second half of 2023. The K-pop idol group's main vocalist was on hiatus before he joined the military, and the sudden announcement surprised many fans. Apart from his role within Astro, MJ has acted in multiple musicals, namely, Everybody's Talking About Jamie and Jack the Ripper.
While many K-pop idols, including BTS' Jin, are on their way to serving in the Korean military soon, the return of these idols is bound to make fans happy. Despite all the changes made within the military, conscription is still not an easy thing to undergo, and having the support of fans while they serve is sure to assuage Korean celebrities getting ready to enlist.
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