seoul — Jin, a member of South Korean K-Pop superstar BTS, shaved his head and joined the army. At 30, Jin is the oldest member of the band, making him first in line to put his pop career on hold to fulfill his mandatory national military service.
A large purple banner was hung near the entrance of the Yeoncheon County Military Training Center on Tuesday, welcoming “Jin and all enlisted men” as they signed up for duty.
btsthat he would pause his touring schedule, causing the share price of the group’s parent entertainment company, Hybe, to drop nearly 25% in a single day.
A photo posted to the group’s Twitter account showed Jin, sporting his new regulation crew cut, laughing with his BTS bandmates. The attached message read: “My brother! Come back safe! I love you.”
Questions about whether BTS youth would be required to enlist under South Korean lawstoking heated debates about everything from the male-only requirement, to whether the band’s enormous cultural contribution and purchasing power, both domestically and as representatives of South Korea on a global stage, should exempt them.
After government machinations to grant the band a pass drew a strong rebuke, especially from former members of the military, thethat the BTS boys would, in fact, have to serve.
Most able-bodied Korean men must serve in the military for 18 months.
Pop starHe has even enlisted twice: Because he managed to take part in so many musical performances during his first stint in the military, officials deemed his national service inadequate and demanded that he enlist again. He has now completed his second enlistment period and resumed his singing career.
But there’s no guarantee for the boy band members that careers shelved for military service will be waiting for them when they return. In the world of pop and popular culture, 18 months is a long time. Being out of the public eye for so long, especially for a band like BTS, which has members of a range of ages, which means their hiatus will be staggered and stretch out over years, can make even the most fervent fanbases cringe. fade away
And BTS may have the most ardent group of fans in the world, or at least on the internet. “The Army,” as they ironically call themselves, responded to the band’s tweet on Tuesday with remorse, regret, and promises to remain loyal to their K-Pop heroes.
“We will wait for you Jin, we love you” declared a fan under the user ID mia. Another simply posted a brief clip of a woman crying on her knees with the word “ARMY” emblazoned across her, in front of a superimposed image of the car taking Jin to the recruiting center.
It is widely assumed at this stage that BTS will at least attempt to reunite in 2025, once all members have fulfilled their military service requirement.
At a daily news briefing, a Defense Ministry official tried to reassure nervous fans about Jin’s safety as he enlisted, noting that some 300 security personnel were dispatched to help control the crowds gathered at the place.
The force, made up of members of the South Korean military (the actual military, not BTS fans), local police and fire departments were “doing everything possible to prevent safety accidents.”
Starting Tuesday, Jin will go through five weeks of intensive training. It has been reported, though not confirmed by the military, that he will later be assigned to a frontline unit near the tense border with North Korea.
CBS News’ Tucker Reals contributed to this report.