Foreign media report BTS military exemptions are "tearing Korea apart" + public criticisms continue to grow
Source: Seoul Newspaper
Foreign media are taking notice over BTS military exemption controversy.
On the 23rd, foreign British newspaper, 'The Guardian' published an article titled "Korea torn apart by BTS military service controversy" and wrote, "Korea is divided over whether to send BTS members, who are in their 20s, to the military for 2 years or recognize them for their outstanding contributions. BTS' economic effect is more than 4.35 trillion won (~$3.5 billion), and with less than 3 weeks left until the inauguration of the new president Yoon Seok-yeol, the country is caught up in a debate on whether they should be exempted from mandatory service. Although Koreans acknowledge BTS' contributions have created billions in economic value and made Korea a cultural superpower, there are strong arguments against military exemptions that include potential clashes with their 'volatile neighbor' North Korea."
The article mentioned "alternative military service benefits" given to Son Heung-min, a Tottenham national soccer player as well as pianist Jo Seong-jin. Under current law, Olympic and Asian Games medalists and classical musicians who have won awards in world-renowned competitions are granted exemptions from military service or allowed to perform alternative service.
'The Guardian' also mentioned singer Yoo Seung-jun (Steve Yoo) and wrote, "Strictly speaking, South Korea is still at war with North Korea and looks down on celebrities who try to avoid military service."
They also included a poll where South Koreans were in support of alternative service for BTS but also share concerns that amendments to the law could be misused by unqualified celebrities since there are no "clear" guidelines.
Following controversy over BTS military exemption talks, a netizen A filed a petition with the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) asking for official clarification into the issue and posted the complaint on an online community. The MMA responded, "We will conduct a careful review with relevant ministries in consideration of objective standards. We ask for your understanding that we're unable to respond to results over public opinion polls."
In a press conference held during Las Vegas concert on the 9th, HYBE revealed, "The members are having difficulties with planning for the future since the bills are constantly changing."
Meanwhile, voices of criticism from men in their 20s and 30s saying exemptions are against "fairness" and "common sense" are continuing to grow.
- [+10,168, -2,501] First of all, claiming this as them raising national prestige is hilarious. Yes, they worked hard and sang well but how does that directly correlate with them raising national prestige? Did 1 or 10 won of that money go into our pockets? If that's the case, make them pay 2-3 billion won a piece as a pre-condition for legally obtaining military exemptions. That money alone will provide enough welfare benefits for conscripted soldiers.
- [+6,086, -592] I think BTS should go to the army, athletes and artists should too. Back then when we didn't have Olympic Games or national competitions, the govt gave individual rewards or benefits to boost morale. So why are we rewarding them with military exemptions right when our country just got rid of the tag of a developing country? It's not like arts and sports contribute much to our economy.
- [+3,672, -1,596] Honestly though, who deserves getting military exemptions then, someone that takes first place in a music contest or someone that actually raises Korea's status around the world and adds 4.3 billion won to our economy?
- [+2,855, -134] They'll end up exiled from the industry. They're better off going and coming back.
- [+2,315, -273] Get 10 billion won a piece from each of them for exemptions. There's no reason for us to pay for the rich to get exemptions.
- [+709, -74] They were loved because of their dance and music and became a global syndrome because of the members luck and talents. The economic value was just an unintentional perk. If they're going to exempt them just because they brought in "economic value" then shouldn't the semiconductor and cellphone development teams at Samsung also receive exemptions? Do you realize just how much economic value the Galaxy team alone has generated for our country? If you want to go then go. Stop waiting around for a bill that will tell you whether to enlist or not.
- [+551, -25] How is any of this in the nation's interest if those that are required to go the army are getting exempted from going?
- [+547, -42] They have enough members in the group to take turns going to the army. I don't think it'll affect their promotions. Nowadays, idols serve less than 2 years anyway. Honestly, BTS achieved so much fame and wealth at such a young age so imagine how miserable it would be for other young men that have to go and they get exempted. It'd be more cool of them to just go on their own and serve.
- [+413, -29] No one in their 20s wants to go either. There's a truce in place between the two Koreas but men in their 20s are still mandated to serve. BTS should serve in the military like everyone else. HYBE and BTS have collected enough profits already. It's just that some didn't want to serve so they ran away to the U.S and got permanent residency.
- [+296, -18] The BTS members themselves promised they'd go. They should keep their promise.
- [+257, -29] They're better off voluntarily going to the army. It's going to get noisy if they don't.