BTS‘s military service is a controversial topic that has the Korean public, fans, and politicians divided. The Military Manpower Administration (MMA) stated that BTS will not be given an exemption, but the members could possibly defer their enlistment to a later date.
How do Korean men feel about the issue? In a recent episode of “Street Debate”, Asian Boss interviewed several, some of whom have already served in the military. Each man shared his honest opinions.
One man who completed his enlistment feels that BTS’s exemption would be unfair. It would make him regret the time he lost.
Under the current law, Olympians, gold medalist athletes, and award-winning classical musicians are all eligible for exemptions because of their outstanding cultural contributions. K-Pop idols are ineligible, but some people believe that BTS’s work as cultural ambassadors should be taken into account.
This man, however, sees BTS as a “product” of their company, unlike the athletes and musicians who are currently eligible for exemptions. As such, he doesn’t feel that BTS’s Billboard chart achievements are comparable to, say, Olympic gold medals.
Another problem is that the criteria for exemptions for musicians aren’t clear cut.
Some of the men interviewed are fine with BTS receiving an exemption for their contributions to the country. That said, they want the exemption criteria to become clearer for entertainers and others who do not fit neatly into the current exemption categories.
One of the men who doesn’t approve of BTS’s exemption believes that all entertainers and athletes should serve. Although BTS has contributed billions of dollars to South Korea’s economy, he does not think the decision should be based on economics alone.
If K-Pop idols become eligible for exemptions, the lines could continue to blur. As this man pointed out, there are internally acclaimed South Korean dancers who are not eligible for exemptions. If idols are exempt from military service, why not those dancers too?
In the end, it all comes down to personal feelings. As this man said, everyone’s opinion on the matter is different.
Watch the episode here: