BTS K-pop idol Suga starts mandatory military duty

Suga is the third member of the popular boy band to undergo mandatory military service. Big Hit Music, the agency which manages BTS, said all seven members will meet their obligation

Suga was a rapper before getting involved in BTS, and has also pursued solo work (photo: DW)
Suga was a rapper before getting involved in BTS, and has also pursued solo work (photo: DW)


K-pop idol Suga, who belongs to the global phenomenon BTS boy group, started his mandatory military duty in South Korea on Friday.

"I'll faithfully serve and come back. Please stay healthy, and let's meet all again in 2025!" Suga posted on the social media site Weverse.

Suga to partake in alternative duty, likely due to shoulder surgery

Korean media reported that 30-year-old Suga is unfit for regular combat duty, probably due to his shoulder surgery in 2020. He will instead fulfill his obligations as a social service agent.

"Please convey your warm regards and encouragement in your hearts only," BTS management agency Big Hit Music said. "We ask for your continued love and support for (Suga) until he completes his service and returns."

Big Hit Music called on fans to avoid visiting Suga at his workplace.

Active duty troops in South Korea usually undergo five weeks of boot camp training, with alternative service enlistees typically only doing three. Those performing alternative service may also choose when to do their basic training.

Young able-bodied South Korean men are required to serve at least 18 months in the army amid tensions with the North. The two Koreas are technically still at war, as fighting between the two countries ended in 1953 by means of a truce, not a peace treaty.

Reunion scheduled for 2025 at present

Suga is the third member of BTS to carry out his duties. Fellow members Jin and J-Hope have already commenced their active military service.

BTS, also known as the Bangtan Boys, debuted in 2013 and later exploded globally. The band, whose hits include "Dynamite" and "Butter," has a massive online fanbase known as the BTS A.R.M.Y.

The South Korean Hyundai Research Institute estimated in 2018 that BTS' popularity brings in the equivalent of billions of dollars each year for the South Korean economy. The group has also attracted hundreds of thousands of tourists annually to South Korea, with visitors often shopping for BTS and K-pop-related merchandise in Seoul and other major cities.

Rumors swirled last year about whether BTS members could receive a special exemption from their duties. South Korea allows certain athletes, classical musicians and others not to have to perform service, but BTS was not deemed eligible as a K-pop outfit.

BTS announced in 2022 they were going on "hiatus" to focus on their solo careers. Big Hit Music later said that all seven members of the group would fulfill their obligatory military duties.

The group is expected to reunite in 2025 after members complete their service. It's unclear whether the period of inactivity might hurt their popularity.

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Published: 23 Sep 2023, 9:31 AM