J-Hope Follows in RM’s Footsteps and Becomes the Second BTS Member to Join the South Korean Army

by Michael Nguyen
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J-Hope, a member of the famous K-pop group BTS, went to boot camp in South Korea on Tuesday. This means he needs to stay there for 18 months as part of his compulsory military service. He’s the second from BTS who has gone to do this.

Last year (2022) there were lots of conversations about whether or not the members of BTS should be allowed to avoid military service with special exemptions but in October the group’s management team said that all seven members would have to go and do it.

At the end of last year, Jin (aged 30) who is the oldest member of BTS, finally went to serve in the military due to canceling his request for deferment. Korean TV showed footage of a dark-colored minivan possibly transporting J-Hope as he entered the boot camp in Wonju city, located 55 miles or 90 kilometers from the capital Seoul. Later on, Hybe Corp which is related with Big Hit Music that manages BTS, gave an official confirmation that the 29-year-old singer was officially inside the camp.

Lots of J-Hope fans came in buses filled with his pictures, wanting him to return safe and sound. Soldiers and police officers were sent out to make sure everyone stayed safe. Big Hit Music asked the fans (people who call themselves the “Army”) not to gather at the site for security reasons, but some still came anyway.

J-Hope, whose real name is Jung Ho-seok, said goodbye on Monday with some photos of himself after cutting his hair in a typical military buzz cut. He posted the message and photos on an online fan platform called Weverse.

The other five members of BTS (RM, Suga, Jimin, V and Jungkook) will have to join the South Korean military in the upcoming years. This means that they won’t be able to reunite as one group again until a few years later.

In South Korea, the law requires all men who are fit and healthy to serve in the military for 18-21 months in order to keep North Korea away.

Some athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet dancers get some special privileges if they have won awards or if they have helped the country become respected. However, K-pop stars and other entertainers do not get these same privileges.

There is a major dispute happening in South Korea about whether their laws should be changed or not. This is because the law would mean that BTS members like Jin could no longer put off joining the military after he turned 30 years old last December.

At the National Assembly, politicians were having an argument about whether members of BTS should be excused from doing military service like everyone else. Several polls showed that people had different opinions on the matter. Defense Minister Lee Jong-Sup stated that it would be nice if BTS members followed the same rule and did their part to make sure that everybody was treated fairly.

In South Korea, when boys reach a certain age they have to stop what they are doing and join the military. This has caused some controversy.

BTS is a popular music group that got really big in 2020 with their song “Dynamite,” which was the first K-pop song to make it to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.

Hybe Corp announced in October that each member of the band would take some time to do individual activities surrounding their military service plans.

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