South Korean Culture Minister Park Yang-woo “personally wishes” BTS had been granted exemptions from the country’s military draft.
All seven members of the K-pop group have yet to sign up for their compulsory military service, and earlier this year it was confirmed the band would not be granted exceptions, as these are only available to athletes or artists who win international competitions.
However, speaking at the UNESCO Forum of Ministers of Culture in Paris, France on Wednesday, Yang-woo said he wished a different decision had been reached.
“In the case of BTS, I personally wish I could allow exemptions for them under certain standards, but the Military Manpower Administration and the Ministry of National Defence (in charge of conscription) are inclined to downsize the overall scope (of exemption),” he said, reported Billboard.
The eldest member of BTS, Jin, is expected to enter service in the near future, as he will turn 28 years old in December 2020 – the maximum age a person can fulfil his mandatory service.
He added: “Unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the criteria of the selection in the popular culture and arts fields, which makes it difficult to institutionalise (a waiver system).”
On Thursday, a representative from the South Korean Military Manpower Administration also addressed the matter, according to the Korea Herald.
“On the request that the exemption needs to be expanded to pop artists like BTS, which has raised national image, we decided not to waiver military service, considering the government position to enhance fairness and downsize the number of exemption due to manpower shortage,” they said.
Conscription dates for each member of the Boy With Luv group have yet to be confirmed.