BTS members accused of using MBA enrolment to delay military enlistment


KATHMANDU: The members of K-pop supergroup BTS are facing accusations that they are using a graduate programme to delay their mandatory military duty.

The Korea Times reports that speculation started swirling when their agency, Big Hit Entertainment said on July 7 that Jimin and V will start their MBA in advertising and media management at Hanyang Cyber University in September.

The agency said Jin has been taking classes for the same programme since 2017, while RM, Suga, and J-Hope joined him in March last year.

Jungkook, who is working on his undergraduate degree at the Global Cyber University, is the only member who is not attending the MBA programme.

Questions are being raised on whether the members are just trying to buy time and delay their military service as much as possible.

“Isn’t it obvious that they are trying to delay the military duty?” a user wrote on an online community.

“Graduate school is a common excuse male K-pop artists use,” another user wrote.

Under South Korean law, all eligible Korean men over 18 are liable for military duty and are required to enlist. However, they can delay enlistment up until they turn 28, under specific circumstances, including studying for a master’s degree.

Jin, 27, who has been enrolled since 2017, is qualified to postpone the duty until he graduates or turns 28. The other members now can do the same.

But Big Hit told local media “the members enrolled on their own will to pursue higher education”.

Enlistment has long been a troubling issue for the group and its fans, as it would mean the group would have to halt its act for at least 18 months during the service.

Discussion of the group’s military exemption emerged when a fan club launched a petition on the presidential website in 2018.

The call for exemption was brought to the attention of lawmakers several times, leading the defence, military, and cultural ministries to form a task force to review the revision of the exemption qualification.

However, the defence ministry concluded that K-pop artistes, including BTS, will not be given the privilege.

“Exempting pop culture artistes from military service, even though they have contributed to the country’s reputation, is not in line with the government’s stance to uphold justice and fairness,” the ministry said during a press briefing last November.

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