Members of the band BTS are seen during an event.
K-pop boy band BTS might still be able to perform oversees while serving in the military, South Korea's defence minister said on Monday, as the country debates shortening mandatory military service for K-pop stars to three weeks from about two years.
The issue is coming sharply into focus with the oldest member of band, Jin, turning 30 next year. Under a 2019 revision of the law, globally recognised K-pop stars were allowed to put off their service until 30.
Military service is hugely controversial in South Korea where all able-bodied men aged between 18 and 28 must fulfil their duties as part of efforts to defend against nuclear-armed North Korea.
Over the years, some categories have won exemptions - either allowed to put off service or to do shorter service - including Olympics and Asian Games medal winners and classical musicians and dancers who win top prizes at certain competitions.
Parliament is now debating a bill that would shorten military service for K-pop stars.
Defence Minister Lee Jong-sup, speaking at the parliamentary session, said that by allowing BTS to continue performing, the military could serve national interests without affecting the already shrinking pool of personnel resources due to low birth rates.
BTS' management, Big Hit, did not respond to a request for comment.
"Even if they join the military, there would be a way to give them a chance to practice and perform together if there are scheduled concerts abroad," Lee said.
"As many people highly value (artists serving) in the military, that may help boost their popularity even more."
The seven-member band announced a break in June from group musical activities to pursue solo projects, pleading exhaustion.
In April, a Big Hit official said some members were having a "hard time" because of uncertainties over the parliament debate, calling for a decision.
Since their 2013 debut, BTS have became a worldwide sensation with their upbeat hits and social campaigns aimed at empowering youth.
BTS became the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards last year, and they met U.S. President Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.
A South Korean think tank estimated in 2018 that BTS would bring an economic benefit totalling 56 trillion won ($43 billion) between 2014 and 2023.
BTS have been crowned the best-selling global artist of 2020. K-pop band released two best-selling albums last year.
K-pop stars BTS won a leading four awards including best song for "Dynamite” and best group at the MTV Europe Music Awards at virtual ceremony.
Since their debut in 2013, the group of seven have grown a fan base that goes beyond the shores of South Korea.
Shah Rukh took to Instagram and said, “Teaching the young ones at home the essence and sacrifice of our Freedom Fighters for our country India, will still take a few more sittings. But getting the flag hoisted by the little one made us all FEEL the pride, love and happiness instantly.
Holland said he had deleted the Twitter and Instagram apps from his phone and did not intend to post in the foreseeable future.
The message came after Spears quoted Lopez’s words in her new Netflix documentary.
Through collaborations with artists, activists, workers and organisations, her projects trace the complex connections between human exploitation and environmental crises that lie at the heart of climate change.