BTS members armed with saxophone reunite to welcome back Jin after military service

Kim Seok-jin, popularly known as Jin, completed 18 months of mandatory military service on 12 June

Shahana Yasmin
Wednesday 12 June 2024 12:10
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Jin, the oldest member of the South Korean boyband BTS, was greeted by his bandmates as he completed his mandatory military service and was discharged on Wednesday 12 June.

The 31-year-old emerged from his army base in South Korea’s northern Yeoncheon county early on Wednesday, where he was met by bandmates RM, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jung Kook.

As Jin greeted and hugged his fellow bandmates, RM played a saxophone in the background, belting out the hook from their hit song “Dynamite”.

The other members, who are also in the process of completing their military service, had to request time off from their respective camps.

Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, posted a cryptic message on online fan platform Weverse on Tuesday that referred to the day of his release as D-Day. His message simply read: “D-1.”

BTS member Jin (L) is welcomed by his bandmates (2-L-R) Jimin, Jungkook, j-hope, V, and RM in front of the main gate of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division after completing his 18 months of mandatory military service in Yeoncheon, South Korea, 12 June 2024
BTS member Jin (L) is welcomed by his bandmates (2-L-R) Jimin, Jungkook, j-hope, V, and RM in front of the main gate of the Army’s 5th Infantry Division after completing his 18 months of mandatory military service in Yeoncheon, South Korea, 12 June 2024 (EPA)

Jin enlisted in December 2022.

Shortly after his discharge, Jin appeared on a live stream from his agency’s headquarters, fulfilling a promise he had made to fans before his enlistment. He also posted a photo from the band’s official account, with member Suga joining in for the group photo.

“I'm normally more handsome than this, but I cried when I was discharged. My eyes are puffy. I usually have confidence in my face, but I'm less confident today,” said Jin on the live.

Ahead of Jin’s discharge, the band’s agency, BigHit Music, asked fans not to assemble at the military base camp.

“We are excited to bring you the news of Jin’s upcoming military discharge.

“Jin is close to completing his active service in the army and will soon be discharged.

“Please note that the discharge day is reserved for military personnel only. No special events are planned on the day of Jin’s discharge. To prevent any issues arising from overcrowding, fans are strongly advised to refrain from visiting the site. Please convey your warm regards and encouragement in your hearts.”

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While it appeared that only the media was present at the base and fans stayed away, there were massive crowds outside the company building, with police being called in for crowd control.

In South Korea, where all able-bodied men must join the military and serve 18 months in active service, Jin’s conscription sparked a fierce debate about the rules. Many believed that exemptions should be provided to prominent entertainers like BTS.

In 2019, lawmakers who wanted BTS, also called Bangtan Sonyeondan, exempted argued that the band was worth $4.65bn to South Korea’s economy, accounting for 0.3% of the country’s GDP.

In 2020, the law was revised to allow globally recognised K-pop stars to postpone their service until they turned 30.

V, Jungkook, Jimin, RM, Jin, j-hope and Suga of BTS speak at the White House in Washington DC on 31 May 2022
V, Jungkook, Jimin, RM, Jin, j-hope and Suga of BTS speak at the White House in Washington DC on 31 May 2022 (Getty)

Several activities have been planned for Jin’s return. His discharge comes a day ahead of the band’s 11th debut anniversary, a day which the group usually commemorates by holding several events and performances. This year, since Jin is the only member present, he will be holding a free meet and greet event, where he will hug 1,000 fans who won a raffle, which will be followed by his first performance in two years.

The band announced in 2022 they would be taking a break from group activities to focus on their solo music, while each member completed their military service. During this period, all the members released their solo albums, with Suga additionally going on tour under his alter ego Agust D.

Jin released a single, “The Astronaut”, co-written with Coldplay, in October 2022 and is expected to release his solo album later this year.

The remaining members are expected to complete their military service by the end of 2025, with Jung Kook and Jimin scheduled to return in December that year. They are anticipated to resume activities as a septet in 2026.

Fans of the band, who are popularly known as Army, have shared photos of BigHit parent company’s Seoul headquarters, which has been plastered with the phrase “Apobangpo”.

The phrase was coined by Jung Kook as a way to say “Army forever Bangtan Forever”.

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