By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) -A second member of Korea’s BTS – the first K-pop band nominated for a Grammy – has begun the enlistment process for mandatory military service, a management official confirmed on Monday, two months after the group’s oldest member began his service.
BTS members said last year they would join the military starting with Jin, who turned 30 and enlisted in December after postponing his service as long as permitted.
An official at the band’s management, BigHit Music, said on Sunday that a second member, the 29-year-old j-hope, whose real name is Jung Ho-seok, applied to end postponement of his own enlistment.
“We would like to inform our fans that j-hope has initiated the military enlistment process,” the statement said. “We ask you for your continued love and support for j-hope until he completes his military service and safely returns.”
All able-bodied South Korean men ages 18-28 must serve in the military for about two years.
A 2019 legislative revision allowed globally acknowledged K-pop stars to delay signing until they are 30. Some lawmakers have pushed to sharply reduce their service along the lines of what is required of Olympic and Asian Game medallists and some classical musicians, but their efforts made little progress.
South Korea’s defence minister has said BTS members could perform overseas while serving. Many artists have been designated as such “entertainment soldiers”.
In a separate statement on Monday, BigHit said j-hope would release a solo single titled “on the street” on Friday, which he wrote as a “gift” for fans to share his feelings toward them.
The seven-member group has pursued solo projects since announcing a break from group musical activities in June.
Local media have said that another member, Suga, was judged unfit for active duty and would apply for community service instead. BigHit declined to confirm the report, citing privacy concerns, but said all members would fulfil their duties.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Gerry Doyle)