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SEOUL, South Korea – The remaining four members of K-pop supergroup BTS will begin their 18-month military service in South Korea this week, joining three others already serving, with fans pledging to wait until 2025 for them to perform as a group again.
A group of fans braved rainy weather on Monday, December 11, to bid a temporary farewell to the seven-member band’s leader, RM, and vocalist V in front of their boot camp in the central city of Nonsan.
“I think I’ll be fine except for one thing, that I won’t be able to make happy memories with you for a while, which is the hardest part,” V wrote on fan platform Weverse on Monday, wishing fans well and happiness.
RM also wrote that he might be lonely at times, but that the 18 months would be a chance to get new inspiration and learn new things.
The duo were accompanied by other members of the band, including Jimin and Jung Kook who will start their military service on Tuesday, December 12 and the three others who were given a day off from military duty, the Yonhap news agency said.
All able-bodied South Korean men aged 18-28 must serve in the military for about two years, as part of efforts to guard against nuclear-armed North Korea.
Known as ARMY, BTS’ global fan base of millions of loyal followers has helped the band support social causes. In 2020, supporters raised more than $1 million for the Black Lives Matter movement in just 25 hours.
Some ARMY fans gathered at a cafe in a Tokyo district known as Korea Town and vowed to wait for their return.
“I feel sad but I think they’ll mature more going into the army and come back looking cool so I’m looking forward and want to wait for them,” said Ayami Ito, 22, a nursing care worker.
In Seoul, supporters also expressed their sadness.
“It was raining today, and I was a bit depressed,” Kim Yong-sun who runs aBTS-themed cafe near the band’s agency building.
“ARMY fans came to the cafe and cheered me up. Talking about the members and listening to music, I feel now much better,” said Kim, who was wearing a purple cap and hoodie, BTS’ signature color.
Since announcing a break from group projects in June 2022, BTS members have pursued solo activities before starting military service.
Jin, 30, the oldest member, joined the army last December, followed by j-hope in April and Suga in August.
BTS’ global success has triggered debate over whether K-pop artists should be allowed to serve for a shorter term, a perk granted to Olympics and Asian Games medallists and some classical musicians with international achievements. – Rappler.com