LOS ANGELES (AP) — Following his debut solo tour earlier this year, Suga, the K-pop superstar rapper/singer/songwriter, has become the third member of BTS to begin South Korea’s compulsory military service.
“We would like to inform our fans that SUGA has initiated the military enlistment process by applying for the termination of his enlistment postponement,” Big Hit Music said in a statement.
“We ask you for your continued love and support for SUGA until he completes his military service and safely returns. Our company will spare no effort in providing support for our artist.”
In South Korea, all able-bodied men aged 18 to 28 are required by law to perform 18-21 months of military service under a conscription system meant to deter aggression from rival North Korea.
The law gives special exemptions to athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers if they have obtained top prizes in certain competitions and are assessed to have enhanced national prestige. K-pop stars and other entertainers aren’t subject to such privileges.
However, in 2020, BTS postponed their service until age 30 after South Korea’s National Assembly revised its Military Service Act , allowing K-pop stars to delay their enlistment until age 30.
There was heated public debate in 2022 over whether to offer special exemptions of mandatory military service for BTS members, until the group’s management agency announced in October that all seven members would fulfill their duties.
In December 2022, BTS’s eldest member, Jin, enlisted at age 30 after revoking his request to delay his conscription. J-Hope followed suit last April.