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Bill proposed to allow alternative military service for BTS

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BTS members pose in front of cameras after being appointed as ambassadors for Busan’s bid to host the 2030 World Expo in July at their agency HYBE in Yongsan District, central Seoul. [YONHAP]
An amendment to the Military Service Act was proposed Monday to allow alternative military service for pop culture artists like BTS.

The bill, proposed by Democratic Party lawmaker Kim Young-bae, would allow pop culture artists who have received the order of merits or medals in culture or sports to be categorized under “Art and Sports Personnel.”

Under the current Military Service Act, prominent figures in arts and sports such as Olympic and Asian Games medalists and globally recognized, award-wining classical musicians can be categorized as “Art and Sports Personnel” and become legally exempt from their military duties. However, the current law does not include pop culture figures.

Under the current law, artists and athletes with talents stipulated by the president and recommended by the Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism can be categorized under “Art and Sports Personnel” and be entitled to the privilege.

In 2018, BTS received the Order of Cultural Merit for promoting Hallyu (Korean wave) worldwide, therefore meeting the criteria to be categorized as “Art and Sports Personnel” based on the bill proposed by Kim.

“I proposed the amendment to the current Military Service Act so that pop culture artists like BTS who have achieved global feats can fulfill their military service obligations with alternative service,” said Kim. “The economic and social contributions of Korean pop culture artists who are outstanding globally go beyond our imagination.”

Kim added that by allowing such stars to do alternative service, they can contribute more to the country by helping out in other areas, such as contributing to “winning the Busan World Expo bid for 2030 by working as ambassadors.”

The issue of K-pop megaband BTS’s mandatory military service has been discussed fervently by the public and politicians with numerous polls being carried out on whether or not the boy band members should be exempt from the mandatory service. In Korea, all able-bodied young men are required to serve around two years in the military.

Jin, the oldest member of the boy band, faces enlistment by December.

BY YIM SEUNG-HYE [yim.seunghye@joongang.co.kr]

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