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BTS is joining the army, won’t be back until 2025

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BTS performs at the free “BTS 〈Yet To Come〉 in Busan” concert on Oct. 15 at the Busan Asiad Main Stadium. [BIGHIT MUSIC]
All BTS members will do their mandatory military service, starting with the eldest, Jin, HYBE announced Monday.

In 2025, the group may come together again, HYBE CEO Park Ji-won wrote Monday in a letter to shareholders.

“BTS has begun to undergo specific preparations for their members to fulfill their mandatory military service,” the agency said via the Financial Supervisory Service’s DART disclosure system.

“BTS member Jin (Kim Seok-jin) has canceled a request for a deferment […] and will follow the Military Manpower Administration’s procedures regarding enlistment.”

The disclosure added that the other six members of the group will also enter the army later.

“The company and the members hope that the band can return as a whole in 2025,” HYBE CEO Park’s letter to shareholders said Monday. “For the time being, the band will focus on solo activities in accordance with each member’s military enlistment plan.

“In the short run, we are expecting solo activities for some of the members until early 2023, and we will make sure fans can interact with BTS through some content that has been prepared in advance.”

As of Monday afternoon, key phrases like “We Will Wait For You,” “By 2025” and “#ForeverWithBTS” were trending on Twitter.

Jin, who turns 30 in December, had to enlist by the end of the year. All able-bodied Korean men are required to serve around two years in the military.

Under the Military Service Act, prominent figures in the arts and sports such as Olympic and Asian Games medalists and globally recognized, award-winning classical musicians can complete 34 months of alternative service. There are no provisions for pop culture figures.

There has been an ongoing debate about whether BTS should serve in the military or be exempted due to its success in promoting Korea around the world. But for many Koreans who had to do military service, that doesn’t seem fair.

Earlier this month, Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup stated that it was “desirable that members of BTS carry out their mandatory military service.”

By canceling his request for a deferment, Jin will now wait for a notice with the date of his enlistment — which could be before the year ends.

During the “BTS 〈Yet To Come〉 in Busan” concert in Busan Saturday, which was held in support of the seaside city’s bid to host the World Expo 2030, Jin revealed that he is preparing to release solo music.

“It wasn’t something that I was expecting, but I am the next member after J-Hope to release my solo album,” Jin said. “It’s not a grandiose album, but a single. I had the chance to work with someone I incredibly admire and so I’m singing something that I like.”

So it appears Jin will release his new song before he dons a uniform and takes a two-year hiatus from superstardom.

BY SHIN MIN-HEE [shin.minhee@joongang.co.kr]