From A.R.M.Y to Army

BTS to enlist in military

Amber Chen, Editor-in-Chief

BTS, the biggest boy band in the world, has finally announced its enlistment in the South Korean military.

Four years into their career, in 2017, the seven band members rose to the top of the K-Pop industry by distinguishing themselves through their self-written, sincere song lyrics.

“The lyrics of my favorite [BTS] songs, such as ‘Magic Shop,’ really helped me realize there’s people out there who are just like me and are willing to help pick me up again,” senior and BTS fan Mia Harley said. “[I realized] I’m not alone.”

The K-Pop group’s tens of millions of supporters, who call themselves A.R.M.Y., have voiced conflicted feelings about the band’s conscription. 

Although serving for a minimum of 18 months is mandatory for Korean men, the law allows military exemption for select individuals such as athletes, musicians, and others who heighten the nation’s prestige. 

Some feel that BTS should be completely exempt from military service due to their immense economic contributions, as they bring in an estimated four billion dollars per year to South Korea. 

However, others appreciate the members’ dedication to South Korean customs. 

“[The military] is a bonding experience for all men in Korea,” senior Jae Lee stated. “Once people are released from the army, it becomes a shared conversational topic.”

Knowing the importance of serving in the Korean military, many fans wholeheartedly support BTS’s decision to enlist.

“I knew their enlistment was coming, and sure, it’s a little sad, but I respect their choices,” Harley said. “I’m very proud of them for being good representatives of Asian culture. They were given the choice of not enlisting, but they chose to [enlist] themselves. It’s very respectable.”

BTS has also introduced the world to Korean lifestyle and customs beyond pop culture. 

“[I admire] their ability to communicate across cultures without even speaking a [universal] language,” Lee said. “[Before], no one really knew much about Korea; the only things that were well-known were Korean music and dramas. However, BTS really showed that Korean culture is much more than that, and a lot more kids are being introduced to my culture because of them.” 

In 2021, the members were invited to speak and perform at the United Nations General Assembly as ambassadors of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). 

From advocating for mental health in their lyrics to addressing the prevalence of anti-Asian crimes with President Joe Biden, BTS has inspired millions across the world.

“I admire their passion and drive to reach what they dream for. They work really hard,” Harley stated. “I hope to have that much drive to get where I want in life, like them.”

The seven members are set to reconvene as an active group in 2025. 

“When they all get back together, it’ll be nice to look back and remember everything,” Harley said. “It’ll be a very sweet reminder of when I first started listening to them. It’s like a little time capsule.”