Fans flock to see BTS star Jin begin military service as he shares dramatic buzzcut photo

Other band members of BTS will, in future, also enlist for military service

Maroosha Muzaffar
Tuesday 13 December 2022 09:17 GMT
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A TV screen shows an image of BTS's member Jin with buzz cut, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, 12 December 2022
A TV screen shows an image of BTS's member Jin with buzz cut, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, 12 December 2022 (Associated Press)

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Fans of BTS member Jin, who started his 18 months of mandatory military service from Tuesday, thronged the Yeoncheon bootcamp near the North Korean border to see off the star.

Kim Seok Jin, the oldest member of the South Korean mega music band BTS, also posted a photo of himself on the online fan platform Weverse in a dramatic military buzz cut that sent his fans into a frenzy.

Under the photo, he wrote: “It looks cuter than I expected.”

Other band members of BTS will, in future, also enlist for military service, the band’s management agency said in October. The agency said that the members of BTS “are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment”.

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

Under a 2019 revision of the law, globally recognised K-pop stars were allowed to put off their service until 30.

Jin is starting five weeks of training at a bootcamp near the North Korean border. He will later be assigned to a frontline unit.

“It’s time for a curtain call,” Jin wrote on Tuesday morning on Weverse.

BTS’s management agency, Bit Hit Music and Jin himself had asked fans not to gather at the base, but many gathered to see off the celebrity.

“Though BTS members have opted to go to the military, there are still some sort of regrets,” Jung Duk-hyun, a pop culture commentator told Associated Press. “Those in the pop culture sector experience little bit of disadvantages and unfairness, compared with those in the pure art sector or athletes. This will likely continue to be an issue of controversy so I wonder if it must be discussed continuously.”

Meanwhile, at the Yeoncheon bootcamp, military recruits are expected to sleep on the floor on mats in crowded rooms and are taught handling of different kinds of weapons and live ammunition.

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On Weverse, several people expressed their adoration for Jin. The BTS Army fan page wrote: “Jin’s so adorable and lovely in this photo!!! He’s like a charming prince, who popped straight out of a fairy tale.”

Other fans were heartbroken. One wrote under the celeb’s buzzcut photo: “Jin don’t go.”

In August, South Korea’s defence minister, Lee Jong-sup, had suggested that BTS could still perform overseas while serving in the military.

“Even if they join the military, there would be a way to give them a chance to practise and perform together if there are scheduled concerts abroad. As many people highly value (artists serving) in the military, that may help boost their popularity even more.”

BTS became the first Asian band to win artist of the year at the American Music Awards last year, and they also met US president Joe Biden at the White House in May to discuss hate crimes targeting Asians.

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