Broadcaster-writer Heo Ji-woong expressed his opinion on BTS’s military service exemption issue.
On September 12th, Heo Ji-woong shared a part of his essay book “Minimum Neighborhood”, which was published last month on his Instagram.
Heo Ji-woong said, “Whenever I reflect on hidden implications of the word ‘exemption’, I feel that military service is being functioned as a kind of punishment in Korean society”, adding “Whenever issues of a celebrity or a gold medalist getting exempted from military service arise, my thoughts become complicated”.
He continued, “Only those who have written off their original sins by achieving high profits, rankings, and medals, can be free from this punishment. It’s certainly not fair at all”, adding “While those who abuse the law don’t go to the army, people who abide the law enlist and fill in that vacancy. Also, they have to sacrifice the brightest moments of their life for the thing that is not praised by anyone”.
In addition, he said, “The importance of military service in Korea is not about learning great things from the military. It is important due to the principle that everyone has equal rights and obligations in front of the Constitution”, adding “Only when dishonest exemptions and military service avoidance are fundamentally blocked will the sense of fairness be revived”.
According to the Ministry of National Defense and the Military Manpower Administration, Jin (real name Kim Seok-jin, born in 1992), who will turn 30 next year, can postpone his military service until the end of this year, and will be subject to enlistment notice next year.
In 2024 and 2025, Suga (Min Yoon-gi), born in 1993, and RM (Kim Nam-joon), J-Hope (Jung Ho-seok), born in 1994, must enlist in the military in turn. If the youngest member, Jungkook (Jeon Jung-kook), born in 1997, finishes his military service at a similar age to other members, BTS will not be able to perform as a whole again until 2030.
In response, Busan Mayor Park Hyung-joon publicly suggested to the presidential office that BTS, the honorary public relations ambassador, be allowed alternative military service for arts and sports personnel in order to host the 2030 Busan World Expo.
However, the Korean public, especially young people, are showing a sensitive reaction to BTS being granted special military service.