Millions of BTS fans around the world, who call themselves the “army,” are grieving the band’s hiatus.
“It was sudden but not unexpected,” 25-year-old Gurpeet Dhillon from Hong Kong told NBC News. “I respect their decision by putting their country first and stop delaying the mandatory military service,” said Dhillon, who describes herself as a full-time BTS fan.
“2025 is gonna be a long wait but I know we all, the ‘army,’, will be waiting for them to come back together again as BTS,” she added.
South Korean law does allow for special exemptions from compulsory military service for some, including athletes, traditional musicians, and others who enhance the country’s prestige. Prior to the October announcement that the band would enlist, there was discussion about whether K-Pop stars should also be afforded such benefits given their international popularity.
“Those in the pop culture sector experience little bit of disadvantages and unfairness, compared with those in the pure art sector or athletes,” Jung Duk-hyun, a pop culture commentator, told the Associated Press. “This will likely continue to be an issue of controversy so I wonder if it must be discussed continuously.”
Lee Jong-sup, the country’s defense minister, said in August that BTS members who are serving would likely be allowed to continue practicing and to join other non-serving BTS members in overseas group tours.
In October Jin released his first solo single, “the astronaut.”. While Jin is away, the six younger BTS members will also pursue individual projects and BTS will reconvene as a group around 2025 when all seven members have completed their military service, according to their label Bighit Music.
“There’s much more yet to come in the years ahead from BTS,” the label said.
Stella Kim reported from Seoul, and Marie Brockling reported from Hong Kong.
Kriti Gandhi contributed.