Since earlier this year, there has been much discussion about whether BTS will be able to delay their mandatory military enlistment. On December 22, South Korea's Ministry of National Defense officially declared that individuals who have been recognized as 'Merit Awardees in the Field of Popular Culture and Arts' will be included as those eligible to request delays in their mandatory military service draft.
However, this has raised other issues such as the specific criteria for postponing military service and equity issues with athletes.
The previous article gave the head of the Regional Military Manpower Administration the authority to postpone conscription or drafting of individuals in the field of sports who have achieved excellence in the promotion of national prestige. These individuals can now include those in the field of 'Sports, Culture, and Arts,' which includes celebrities.
As a result, K-Pop idols such as BTS that brought about much influence can now legally delay the timing of their mandatory military service.
Until now, celebrities had to go through complicated procedures to delay their enlistment. They were able to delay their enlistment until the age of 28 by taking a master's or doctorate course at a university. They were only allowed to delay their enlistment until the age of 30 if they have an illness or mental and physical disabilities. However, with the revision of the law, celebrities can postpone their enlistment until the age of 30 if they are recognized as a global Korean star.
Now the concern is who else can benefit from the military law revision other than BTS? The new law stipulates that the presidential decree defines the matters necessary for the scope of outstanding individuals in the field of sports, popular culture, and arts.
There is no provision yet in the Presidential Decree of the Military Service Act on the postponement of the enlistment of talented people in pop culture and arts. The Ministry of National Defense and the Military Manpower Administration must come up with a new clause.
The new clause is expected to be similar to Article 124 Clause 3 that deals with the postponement of athletes' enlistment.
Article 124 Clause 3 states that athletes who are allowed to postpone their military service are those who are recommended by the president of the Korea Sports Association, those who have established a new Korean record in national competitions or who have been recommended by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.
As a result, the clause on the excellence of pop culture and arts is also expected to be based on Korean celebrities' achievements and records.
The criteria for selecting talented people in popular culture and art have already been outlined to some extent. The scope of those allowed to postpone their enlistment is under consideration by the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, and the Military Manpower Administration. They have already decided that the individual must be recognized as 'Merit Awardees in the Field of Popular Culture and Arts' and must have contributed to promoting the national prestige. The enforcement ordinance of the Military Service Act will be announced as soon as details such as the standards for international award winnings are set.
As the details of the Military Service Act's enforcement ordinance are to be set, many have taken interest if other K-pop groups such as EXO, GOT7, and Seventeen will also be allowed to delay their military enlistment.
However, there is a possibility that some Korean celebrities may be excluded as the Ministry of National Defense is determined not to exaggerate the benefits of delaying military service. The Ministry of National Defense said on December 22, "We are trying to guarantee the sustenance of the successful activities of individuals in the popular culture who have highly contributed in raising the prestige of the Nation. We plan to strictly set the plan, so the postponement of enlistment is minimized so there would not be an excessive usage of the Act."
There is also a possibility that equity issues may be raised with outstanding athletes in sports in the future. The Ministry of National Defense and the Military Manpower Administration set the deadline for the postponement of military service for talented people in pop culture and arts to the age of 30. On the other hand, it is reported that the deadline for the postponement of the military service for athletes will remain at age 27.
As a result, there may be opposition to the fact that short-lived athletes, like those who excel in pop culture and arts, are not given the benefit of postponing military service.