BTS’ Jin enlists in military amid intense media coverage

SEOUL– K-pop superstar Jin on Tuesday entered a boot camp in a front-line area to begin his mandatory military service, with hundreds of reporters from domestic and foreign news media waiting outside to cover the news.

The 30-year-old became the first member of the boy band BTS to join the military. The group’s six other members — RM, Suga, Jimin, J-hope, V and Jungkook — will also be enlisting in the military in order, according to the band’s agency, Big Hit Music.

The vocalist quietly entered an Army training center in Yeoncheon, 60 kilometers north of Seoul, in a car without a farewell event for fans.
Hundreds of personnel from the military, police, firefighting and local government authorities, and media packed an intersection in front of the boot camp’s main gate for safety management and news coverage, respectively, from a few hours before the expected time of his enlistment.

Placards reading “We welcome the enlistment of BTS’ Kim Seok-jin and all other military personnel” and balloons were hung there. Kim Seok-jin is Jin’s original Korean name.

Jin’s vehicle passed the main gate at about 1:40 p.m. Six other bandmates and staff members from Big Hit Music reportedly traveled together in six black minivans to see him off.

He headed directly to the precincts of the camp without getting out of the car or sticking his head out of a window.

The authorities operated a situation room near the training center, as many fans and journalists were expected to gather with about 300 personnel on standby to prevent possible accidents from congestion. Ambulances were also ready in case of emergency.

Scores of BTS fans were also there to get a glimpse of their favorite star, but there was no congestion from massive gathering of fans, probably because the artist and his agency have repeatedly requested them not to come.

“I love Jin and BTS, and Armies will miss and wait for him,” a female fan from Hong Kong said, referring to the name of the band’s fandom.

Another female fan, who is Korean, said she had been waiting for him from early in the morning. “My heart aches because Jin, who hates the cold, came to join the army in winter … I hope Jin, the oldest member of BTS, will adapt well to military life.”

The singer took to Weverse, an online community platform for K-pop fans, early in the morning to say goodbye to his fans.

“Now it’s time for curtain call,” he wrote, using a line from the main character of the same name in the popular online game “League of Legends.”

“I always wanted to say this when I go to the military,” he added.

On Sunday, he posted a photo of himself with a buzz cut on the same online platform.

Jin, born in 1992, had his conscription deferred to the end of this year under a revised law that allows “those who excel in popular culture and art” to postpone their service until the age of 30.

But he announced his plan to serve in the military after the band’s concert in the southern port city of Busan in October and revoked the postponement.

In South Korea, all able-bodied men are obliged to serve between 18 and 21 months in the military.

Jin will be assigned to a unit after finishing a five-week basic training course.

Debuting in June 2013 as a member of the K-pop septet, Jin has drawn popularity for his good looks and refreshing voice.

After unveiling his plan to enter the military, Jin released “The Astronaut,” his solo debut single, with the British rock band Coldplay on Oct. 28. The single sold 700,000 copies on the first day of its release.

“I won’t be able to see you in public for a while, but I’ll come back with good music next time,” Jin said when his bandmate J-Hope made a call on stage to him at the 2022 MAMA Awards in Osaka, Japan. “Everyone, I’ll be back safely from the military.”

With Jin’s enlistment, BTS is expected to be on a hiatus from a project involving all members. The group is expected to reconvene in 2025, according to the agency.

The six remaining bandmates also had their services postponed until the end of the year, when they turn the age of 30 under the same conscription law revised in 2020. But many of them are expected to join the military next year in order to return as a whole group in 2025.

Suga, the oldest of the six, will carry out his military duty as a social service agent instead of in active duty, according to military and music industry sources Tuesday. The 29-year-old rapper underwent surgery in 2020 to repair his torn shoulder labrum.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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