South Korean Lawmakers Face Criticism Over ‘Unrealistic and Unfair’ BTS Military-Deferment Terms

BTS disband military
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BTS disband military
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Photo Credit: I Dare U JK / CC by 3.0

The Korea Music Content Association (KMCA) has filed a formal complaint over the “unfair” military-service deferment that K-pop sensation BTS received in 2020’s final month.

To recap, lawmakers in December of 2020 passed a measure that allowed BTS members to delay completing their mandatory military service – effectively enabling the Seoul-based act to remain together for two more years. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied males must serve in the military for approximately 18 months between their 18th and 28th birthdays.

Jin, the oldest of BTS’s seven members, turned 28 in December, whereas Suga celebrated his 28th birthday last month and J-Hope’s 27th birthday arrived in February of 2021. Now, as a result of the initially mentioned law, the ultra-popular (and financially successful) K-pop group will remain intact for another two years, until Jin turns 30 in December of 2022.

As an aside, BTS and Hybe (formerly Big Hit Entertainment) aren’t hesitating to capitalize upon the window, as they announced today that a follow-up BTS livestream event, dubbed Bang Bang Con 21, will take place this Saturday.

And while BTS ARMY diehards have celebrated the military-enlistment deferment, The Korea Music Content Association (KMCA) is among the entities and individuals that are unhappy with the arrangement.

Specifically, the KMCA – which owns and operates the Gaon Music Chart – has described the corresponding law as “both unrealistic and unfair,” according to the Korea JoongAng Daily (the English-language edition of the JoongAng Ilbo). Worth noting is that the KMCA’s board of directors includes representatives from Universal Music Group, YG Entertainment, and even Big Hit/Hybe itself.

Moreover, the organization in its complaint to the Ministry of National Defense took aim at the requirements for the deferment, including that individuals must have acquired the Order of Cultural Merit as well as permission from the minister of culture.

BTS received the honor from South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in 2018, owing to their considerable popularity and impact on the domestic economy – though musicians must typically log 15 years in the industry before they become eligible, per the Korea JoongAng Daily.

Consequently, past award recipients have been older than 60, on average, and the KMCA stated that the armed-service deferment is “merely a taunt” because of the perceived difficulty that other artists will encounter as they attempt to fulfill the outlined requirements.

“If a male musician would want to meet the criteria before he turns 28, he has to begin his K-pop career when he’s 13 years old at the latest,” relayed the KMCA. “And that doesn’t even mean that they can defer their services. That’s only the requirement to apply for the merit. There’s a separate set of standards to see whether they actually get the chance to defer their services.

“We are not blindly saying we want lower standards,” continued the entity. “The current bars are unrealistically high. How are musicians supposed to meet a criterion that’s impossible to achieve? All we ask is that the ministry come up with standards that can be met and fulfilled by musicians, not extraordinary measures that cannot be made.”

At the time of this piece’s publishing, it didn’t appear that BTS or Hybe had addressed the criticism on social media. In late March, the group revealed that it would cash in on its considerable popularity in Japan by dropping a 23-track “best of” compilation album on June 16th.

10 Responses

    • kesumo

      This doesn’t even make sense. Fraudulent what?

      Get a life

    • BTS are not frauds

      Hi. So maybe you don’t like BTS and I get that people have different views and I usually respect that, but if you hate them so much, why not just ignore posts or articles about them? To stoop so low and even take the time to do this shows that you are wasting your time doing something insignificant and something that won’t benefit your life when you could be gathering up some of your LITTLE braincells and oh, I don’t know, maybe try and RAISE YOUR IQ? By the way, I don’t care who you are, whether you own a whole fucking country, because no matter how much money you have or who you are, no one gives a shit about someone who is disrespectful and rude like you. Just keep in mind that they are better people than you will ever be and the only reason you are doing this is because you are jealous of them and their success. (Either that or you are racist but I really don’t wanna point fingers becuase unlike you I’m actually a decent person.) So please, be a better person and keep this shit to yourself. Maybe work on your grammer too. Have a nice day anyway, I hope your braincells multiply so you can actually be smart for once and not act like the stupid asshole you are.

  1. Lily

    get your life together man.. you sound like a loser right now

  2. kesumo

    Also correction: ‘The Best’ Japanese album doesn’t come out until June 2021.
    You guys don’t have editors, huh? LOL

    • Lily

      from reading the article and the title I get the feeling the writer/publication is trying to smear BTS name but not being too obvious about it.. so I doubt they even fact-checked anything they put in the article.. they didn’t even know bang bang con is a free streaming concert but instead they accused it of being pay-per-view and also in a not so subtle way accusing the label is banking in on the free streaming concert.. right… the objective of the article is quite clear…

  3. Lily

    exactly, this article is a bit iffy.. the writer seems like he’s trying to make something out of it, but not reaching it so there are a lot of holes or misinformation in the article for example the claim this concert is pay-per-view like, it’s free streaming on youtube.. what part of free streaming is equal to pay-per-view?

  4. ben

    Meanwhile, others must suspend their life to joing the army
    this is nothing else than another privilege for rich people, that’s blatantly it.
    I have nothing against BTS, neither for btw, It would have been PLA or BNU or any other ‘acronyimic’ group…I don’t care, I’m just pointing an indeniable fact

  5. Dylan Smith

    Thanks everyone for the comments. I’ve updated the piece to reflect the fact that this Bang Bang Con iteration, unlike the group’s pay-per-view livestream show last June, will be available to watch for free.

    I’ve also specified that while BTS announced the compilation album in March, it won’t become available until June.