January 2023

Jin Joins the Army


Jin performs at a BTS concert in Los Angeles, California.

On December 13, 2022, Kim Seok-Jin joined the South Korean army. It’s mandatory for South Korean males to serve at least 18 months before they turn 30 years old. They can start serving at age 18. There are exemptions from military service. Some athletes and classical musicians have been exempted. However, there are no exemptions for pop musicians, like Kim Seok-Jin.

After the Korean War, the Korean peninsula was divided into democratic South Korea and communist North Korea. A narrow strip of land about 2 miles wide, known as the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), is all that separates them. Since the war, Koreans have lived with the possibility of war between the two countries reigniting.

Kim Seok-Jin, known to his fans as Jin, is a member of the K-Pop supergroup BTS. Other members of the group include—Suga, J-Hope, RM, V, Jimin, and Jungkook. Building on the success of earlier K-Pop artists like Psy, BTS is one of the most popular musical groups in the world. Their songs were the fifth most streamed music globally in 2022.

As BTS’s oldest member, Jin will be the first to enter military service. BTS fans call themselves the “ARMY.” Ironically, Jin and the other members of BTS are moving from leading one “ARMY” to serving in another. The other members of BTS will soon follow Jin into the military. All of them are proud to serve their country. They see military service as their patriotic duty.

The group plans to reform in 2025, once all members have completed their military service. In the meantime, though, the temporary departure of BTS from the world stage gives an opportunity to other K-Pop groups. Artists like BLACKPINK and Stray Kids will be looking to fill fans’ needs for K-Pop.

Photo Credit: ©Xavier Collin/Image Press Agency/Alamy
Question 1
By what age must Korean males enlist for mandatory military service?

Question 2
Which member of the K-Pop group BTS was the first to enter military service?

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