A Second Member of the World’s Biggest Music Group Joins the Army

Biden BTS
K-pop supergroup BTS member J-Hope speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, May 31, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

J-Hope will become the second member of the boy band BTS to enlist in the Republic of South Korea Army to fulfill his mandatory service obligation. The 29-year old pop star follows his fellow band member Jin, who started his military service in December 2022.

This is the biggest pop star military news since Elvis Presley was drafted and entered the U.S. Army in 1958. The Oscar-nominated 2022 movie “Elvis” suggests that the singer entered the military to keep the forces of morality from crushing his career, but the truth is that the young man felt it was important to serve his country.

Almost all men in South Korea are required to complete 18 months of mandatory military service before they turn 28. The massive worldwide success of BTS inspired a 2020 bill that allowed pop stars to defer the beginning of their service until age 30.

“We would like to inform our fans that j-hope has initiated the military enlistment process by applying for the termination of his enlistment postponement,” management company Big Hit Music said in a statement. Big Hit asked fans for their “continued love and support for j-hope until he completes his military service and safely returns.”

Before he disappears from the music scene for a year and a half, J-Hope will drop a new solo single, “On the Street,” on Friday, March 3. Because there’s nothing like using your departure for basic training as a promotional tool.

Big Hit has promised that all seven members of BTS will eventually complete their military obligations. Even though BTS member Jungkook is only 25 and V is the second youngest at 27, there would seem to be a case that the entire group should do their service at the same time to minimize BTS’ time out of the spotlight. If they’re planning to do that, Big Hit hasn’t announced it yet. As it stands now, the group says it hopes to reconvene to make new music in 2025.

It’s hard to minimize the role that K-Pop music, in general, and BTS, in particular, play in the South Korean economy. A 2019 study revealed that BTS generated $4.9 billion in revenue, good for a staggering 0.3% of the country’s entire economy.

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