BTS’s Jin to start mandatory military service in South Korea’s army


SEOUL — K-pop singer Jin, the oldest member of South Korean supergroup BTS, is starting his military service on Tuesday, making him the first in his band to do so — much to the grief of millions of his fans.

The process surrounding Jin’s entry into the army almost has the sense of a military operation as well, with authorities setting up a “situation room” to monitor any safety hazard posed by the crowds of fans expected to bid their superstar farewell.

Some 270 riot police have been deployed, and ambulances are on standby around the Key Recruit Training Center, where Jin enters boot camp at a front-line division in Yeoncheon County on the border with North Korea.

BTS’s Jin enlists: What to know about S. Korea’s mandatory military service

The enlistment of Korean celebrities often attracts fans and journalists trying to catch a glimpse of the stars before they leave the public eye for around two years.

BTS’s agency HYBE said on Monday that Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok-jin, will be driven into the military grounds without stopping for a send-off “in order to prevent any accident from crowding.”

The enrollment day at a training center is usually busy with recruits and their family members exchanging emotional goodbyes. The 30-year-old singer joins boot camp with a cohort of about 200 other conscripts, many of whom are younger than him.

All able-bodied South Korean men aged between 18 and 28 must serve at least 18 months in the country’s armed forces, but K-pop stars like Jin who are recognized by the government can defer their service until age 30.

Jin told the “BTS Army” — the official name of the boy band’s millions-strong fan base — to refrain from coming to his enrollment day. Despite his plea, fans are expected to show up and HYBE warned in a statement on Monday about possible overcrowding.

The K-pop heartthrob sent social media abuzz earlier when he revealed his freshly shaved head. The South Korean army maintains rigid grooming standards, including hair length regulations. “It’s cuter than I thought,” he said in a message posted on the Weverse fan community on Sunday.

Jin will undergo a physically demanding five-week basic training course before being assigned to a military unit. Army trainees learn basic skills such as how to march, shoot guns and throw a grenade.

The six other members of BTS are expected to fulfill their draft obligations based on individual timelines. BTS, hailed as the world’s biggest boy band, plans to reconvene as a group in 2025 after they complete their service.

Jin made his solo debut in October with the hit single “The Astronaut,” which sold more than a million copies.

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