[Column] What is the end of the controversy over the ‘BTS military service exception’ that foreign media also paid attention to?

Entertaiment, News

Controversy is resurfacing as it is reported that the National Assembly is discussing whether or not BTS will be exempted from military service in earnest.

Currently, a bill to amend the Military Service Act to allow popular artists to be transferred to art and sports personnel is pending in the National Assembly, which is called the ‘BTS Act on Special Cases for Military Service’.

In the meantime, popular culture achievements have been excluded from the military service exception due to their commercial nature, but as BTS achieved unprecedented achievements while building a global reputation, there were voices calling for the application of the Special Military Service Act.

If this law on special cases of military service fails, BTS member Jin (born in 1992) will have to enlist next year, followed by Suga (born in 1993), RM and J-Hope (born in 1994) in turn.

As the legislation becomes visible, the positives and the negatives are sharply divided.

The pros side is of the opinion that BTS’s promotion of national prestige is clear, even if it’s popular culture, and that if their careers are cut off due to military service at this point, it will be a national loss.

This means that BTS is qualified because it has raised interest in Korea and Korean culture more than ever by forming a fandom called ‘Army’ with a worldwide reputation that is hard to find in the past.

Moreover, the proponents argue that the Hallyu wave can become more explosive when BTS resumes its activities in a situation where the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has been rampant for the past two years, is slowly disappearing.

On the other hand, the opposing party argues that standards such as ‘awarding prestigious overseas awards’ are not only vague, but also against equity.

In particular, among men in their 20s and 30s, if a pop music singer pursuing personal interests is exempt from military service, there is a sharp criticism that it is reverse discrimination against an ordinary man in his 20s who has served in the military.

The standards for promoting national prestige are also ambiguous to quantitatively judge, and there is an opinion that there may be ambiguous situations in which some will go and some will not.

In the midst of this, the Guardian, a major British daily, published an article on the 23rd with the title, ‘Korea torn by BTS military service controversy’.

The Guardian mentioned, “In connection with the National Assembly’s discussion on the law on special cases of military service, Koreans are divided over whether to send BTS members in their 20s to the military for two years or to recognize special cases in recognition of their outstanding contributions.”

The Guardian estimated that the economic effect contributed by BTS was $3.5 billion (more than 4.3 trillion won).

Next, the newspaper introduced the case of soccer player Son Heung-min, pianist Seong-jin Seong-jin who won the International Chopin Piano Competition, and singer Seung-jun Yoo, who was expelled for evading military service as examples of benefits for alternative military service.

As such, the issue of BTS’ military service is not only a controversial topic in Korea, but also a subject of international attention.

However, in Korea, the military service issue is a very volatile issue along with education and real estate issues.

It is common to see cases where a strong presidential candidate in the past gets caught up in the issue of his son’s military service, and high-ranking public officials or candidates have resigned or resigned due to their own or their children’s military service issues.

No matter how popular it is, the so-called ‘BTS Act on Special Cases for Military Service‘ doesn’t seem very feasible unless it gets the tacit consent of the majority of the people.

Even if it is positively reviewed by some politicians, it is unclear whether the new government, which has achieved a change of government by calling for the votes of men in their 20s and 30s and ‘fairness’, will be positive on this issue.

In addition, as opinions in favor of BTS’ military service exemption are high among young women, there is a possibility that the gender conflict that surfaced in the last presidential election may intensify.

Military service, education, and real estate, which the people are most sensitive to, once they become controversial, there is not much that can be done in reality because emotional intervention goes beyond pros and cons.

BTS’ application of special military service has already become a problem that is not easy to solve beyond a simple controversy.

In the past, when the mandatory military service period was 30 months, he referred to his girlfriend who was tired and changed his mind while waiting for a boyfriend who went to the military to say, ‘I changed rubber shoes’.

Now, the period of military service has been shortened considerably, vacations and visits are easy, and you can even use your cell phone after work, so I think it would have greatly reduced the need to change rubber shoes.

If the Special Military Service Act is canceled, BTS members will have to fulfill their military service duties one after the other from next year, and it will become difficult in practice, and the fan heart of ‘armies’ around the world may slowly cool down.