Latest BTS military update: Busan's mayor appeals for alternative military service

South Korean government may give BTS an alternative military service option (Image via BIGHIT MUSIC)
South Korean government may give BTS an alternative military service option (Image via BIGHIT MUSIC)

The mayor of Busan, Park Heong-joon, has appealed to the Presidential Office for pop-pop boy group BTS to receive alternative military service and continue their activities as 2030 Busan World Expo global ambassadors. The members were announced as the official ambassadors for the said expo in July this year.

The mayor’s appeal has added to universal calls for BTS to be allowed alternative service instead of standard military requirements. This will be an essential factor in making the said decision as the oldest member, Jin, will have to report for mandatory enlistment in four months unless an alternative is approved.

BTS will serve Korea better by acting as 2030 Busan World Expo ambassadors: Busan's Mayor

As per SPOTV News, in his address to the Presidential Office, Mayor Park Heong-joon claimed that he made the alternative military service appeal after much consideration. As per his statement, BTS’ alternative service will not be a method to escape mandatory service, but a way through which they can support the nation through activities they alone are in the best position to carry out.

“I am very well aware of the symbolic meaning of military service in the Republic of Korea. My suggestion is not to give BTS the privilege of exemption from military service. If BTS is subject to the alternative service system, BTS members will be given a national responsibility equal to their military service. They will serve the country with the capacity that only they can do.”

Alternative service entails working in prisons, detention centers, and community work instead of mandatory military procedures. Football star Son Heung-min is an example of a global star being allowed similar service while playing for Tottenham Hotspur. He recently completed his mandatory service by spending 544 hours helping the community.

According to Mayor Park Heong-joon, resolving the issue of BTS’ mandatory military service is imperative if the group is to continue promoting Korea at World Expos while bidding for the 2030 Busan World Expo.

The maximum age by which men have to enlist in South Korea is 28. However, due to BTS’ global demand and activities that have aided the nation, an exception was made, allowing the members two more years until mandatory service needs to start.

The timing of his message is critical as the eldest member, Jin, is 30 years old and will have to enlist by the end of the year unless approval comes their way.

Park Heong-joon has emphasized that bringing the 2030 Busan World Expo into existence is a crucial task not just for Busan but for the nation of Korea as a whole. It is essential that BTS be allowed to act as official ambassadors as the subsequent results of doing so would be far greater than military service.

BTS’ alternative service finds support from 6 out of 10 Korean citizens

Months before the news of the Busan mayor made headlines, a nationwide poll was conducted on April 14, 2022, by pollster Realmeter.

The Korea Herald reported that the results showed that 6 out of 10 Korean citizens support the boy group’s exception from military service. The poll was conducted on 8,000 people and garnered a response rate of 6.3%, with a margin of error of plus and minus 4.4 percentage points.

As per the final numbers, 500 responses, 65.5% believe that BTS’ alternative service will be more beneficial as it will further help and promote Korean culture, as they have continued to do for years. Meanwhile, 30.2% of the respondents are against the group being allowed to skip military enlistment, and 4.3% are indecisive.

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Edited by Shreya Das