why bts fulfilling their military duty solidifies their success


illustration by stella skinner

BTS announced last week that they will be fulfilling their mandatory military enlistment in the South Korean military. This is of course shocking to their fans, because of BTS’ decision to enlist at the height of their career. Arguably the biggest group in the world with millions of fans worldwide, the talks of when and if they would be serving in the military have loomed for a year or two now. This decision is not only influential to their worldwide success but also will have a major effect on South Korea’s economy. 


To put their success in numbers from Fortune, Hyundai Research Institute said that BTS contributes more than $3.6 billion to the South Korean economy annually. The researchers at Hyundai also share that “one in every 13 tourists who visited South Korea in 2017, generated an estimated $1.1 billion from consumer exports like merchandise and cosmetics in a single year.” These numbers have likely climbed to even greater heights since 2017. 


Behind the group’s success is a massively devoted group and fanbase called the BTS ARMY. The fanbase that has grown more and more each year showed their love after BTS recently hosted an entirely free concert in Busan, South Korea. This concert was even more important as it came after they announced a small break to work on personal growth all while fans questioned the possible military enlistment decisions back in June. CNN reported “a total of 100,000 people were expected to visit the stadium and other areas.” This devotion between BTS and their fans isn’t just explained through numbers, it’s also always been a promise made to their fans. 


During the Busan concert, the leader of the group, Kim Namjoon emotionally said, “If the seven BTS members feel the same way and if you guys have faith in us, we will overcome whatever happens to us in the future and we will perform with you guys and make music. Please just have faith in us.”

This vaguely cryptic message about having faith in the group, gave a hint to fans that they would likely move forward with enlistment. This is a huge duty in South Korea, as the country’s conscription system requires all able-bodied men to enlist for up to two years when they’re between ages 18 to 28, NPR reports. The oldest member, Jin, however, was able to delay because of a law passed in 2020 in favor of BTS. 


This law “allowed pop culture artists to postpone the draft if the president of South Korea awarded them an order of cultural merits. They are the only K-Pop artists to receive that honor.” This honor not only solidified their cultural importance but also marked a commitment made by BTS that today they still make to their country.

With the Busan concert coming to a close and no solid schedule in place for the near future of the group, a few days later it was officially announced by BTS’ company, Hybe, that they will be proceeding with their military duties. In the statement it reads, “BigHit Music is proud to announce today that the members of BTS are currently moving forward with plans to fulfill their military service.” Ending their statement, they leave a positive outlook for fans to rest assured: “Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment.” 


This constant reassurance to the fans has been a key to BTS’ success as a group. At the height of their career, they are putting their spotlight on pause to once again solidify their commitment to their country and be transparent about the future as a group. In a song they released in June from their album “Proof” titled “Yet To Come,” a lyric in it says “the best is yet to come” and that truth will keep fans supporting all seven members of BTS until they reunite again in 2025. 

To read the full enlistment statement click here.

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