BTS members may not have to take a break from music to serve the military. Citing "conflicting pros and cons" ahead of the enlistment of BTS, Korean Culture Minister Hwang Hee has proposed that members of the global music sensation be allowed to substitute their mandatory military service for other alternative programmes. According to Korean news agency Yonhap, amid heated debate over whether the Grammy nominated group should be given military exemptions, the culture minister asked the parliament to approve a relevant bill as early as possible.
"It's time to create a system for incorporating popular culture-art figures as art personnel," Culture, Sports and Tourism Minister Hwang said during a press briefing in Seoul on Wednesday.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military for about two years.
Jin, the oldest member of the group, faces enlistment by December.
The culture minister referred to the programme of allowing global award-winning athletes and classical musicians to do alternative services in their respective fields instead of serving in active military duty, in recognition of their role in promoting their country's image abroad.
"The system has been operated meaningfully to give those who have enhanced the national status based on their excellent skills more chances to contribute to the country, and there is no reason the popular art-culture field should be excluded from this," he said.
Citing the example of BTS, Hwang said, "I thought somebody should be a responsible voice at a time when there are conflicting pros and cons ahead of the enlistment of some of the BTS members."
Forcing globally recognised pop culture artists to halt their careers at their peak in order to serve in the military would cause a great loss not only to the country but also to the entire world, the minister said as a reason for making such a proposal.
The development comes as BTS is gearing up to release their anthology album 'Proof' on June 10.
The proposed bill would grant male pop artists other alternative options pending at the National Assembly amid strong opposition from young men who have fulfilled or will soon begin their military service.
In their past interviews and media interactions, the septet -- also comprising RM, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook -- have maintained that "they will accept the call of duty when the nation calls them".
The defence ministry has also stressed the need for "prudence" in considering whether to allow active-duty military service exemptions for the band.
Hwang emphasised his proposal would be worth considering "if the country can give bigger obligations to the talented pop culture artists and create greater national interests through this".