Koreans raise heated debates on BTS’s military service exemption

“Special exemption for military service should not be further expanded” VS “It would help everyone if equity problem is resolved”

Regarding the military service exemption issue related to boy group BTS, which has recently been raised in political topics, the public responded intensely with divided viewpoints between approval and opposition. As discussions continue, opinions on improving the military service exemption system as well its pros and cons keep on being mentioned.

Song (29 years old, male), who works as a teaching staff in Seoul, said on April 13th, “In fact, I think no one wants to do military service. I don’t think the privilege should be expanded”, adding, “It’s an obvious thing that everyone must fulfill their responsibilities and duties to be able to enjoy the rights provided the nation”.

“Countless other occupations are also contributing to the country, but giving privilege to only a few people who are revealed to the public is against justice or equity”, he added.


Jeon (30 years old, male), an office worker in Suwon, said, “I believe the revision of the Military Service Act is necessary, but I think they should reduce the scope of military service exemption, not expand it”. Mr. Jeon said, “ I think it would be okay for them to serve in the military like other non-celebrities in order to keep their position in the society”, adding, “If military service exemptions are given because of individual success despite not being national team members, the whole country will laugh at them”.

On the other hand, some people showed support for the promotion of military service exemption, saying it could be a help for everyone. Choi (28 years old, female), a graduate student, said, “Unless the military service exemption is completely eliminated, I think BTS’s military service exemption is worth discussing”, adding, “I believe BTS has made Korea better known to the world than anyone else, and thanks to that, our national prestige has risen”. Choi continued, “However, it can be a problem in terms of equity because certain areas are benefited and certain areas are not”.

Cho (32 years old, male), an office worker in Daejeon, said, “In fact, those who have money are already exempted from military service”, adding, “We haven’t been able to solve these cases for decades so I wonder if it is a loss for the nation or the people to send those who promote national prestige to the military”. He added, “It would be better for everyone to enhance the national image by providing military exemptions or reducing the military period for those who promote national prestige like BTS”.


Heated debates on military services exemptions have also been raised online. An Internet user expressed opposition, saying, “Sports have proper regulations and rules, and there is an age limit for being an athlete, so not many people would complain about them”, adding, “However, if BTS can earn money from overseas activities and also be exempted from military service, aren’t workers at private export companies should also receive military service exemptions?”. Many netizens agreed with this comment, pointing out that if BTS gets the privilege, other famous stars, such as actors, models, TikTok stars, Youtubers, etc., would also be given the chance. Another netizen added, “Are you using charts and awards in foreign countries to determine the obligations of the people of our country. Isn’t it silly and funny?”.

On the other hand, an Internet user living in a South American country said, “People around me like Koreans these days. There’s no one who doesn’t know BTS”, adding, “This makes me feel so proud to be a Korean” This person continued, “People who run Korean restaurants or marts also said their customers are more interested in Korea because of BTS,” adding, “It is undeniable that BTS has contributed to promoting national prestige as much as sports athletes.”

Another netizen agreed, “There are people who criticized Billboard or K-pop chart rankings, but they agree with the rankings in the international sports competitions, which are already be given the special privilege”.

Currently, a revision to the Military Service Act, which allows popular artists to be transferred as arts and sports personnel, is pending in the National Assembly.

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