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K-pop group BTS to enlist in South Korean military, may not regroup until 2025

Members of the K-pop group BTS will serve in South Korea's military, their agency announced, ending a contentious debate about whether musicians should be exempt from the draft.

The members of the South Korean pop group BTS will officially serve in their country's military, the group's agency announced on Monday.

The news concludes a years-long debate about whether the internationally-popular musicians should be compelled to serve in their country's military, which is at war with North Korea.

Jin, the oldest member of the group, will be the first one to enlist. The 29-year-old delayed his conscription under the South Korea's Military Service Act. Once Jin enlists, the K-pop group is not expected to reconvene for another three years. 

"Jin will revoke his request to delay his conscription at the end of this month and will follow conscription procedures required by the Military Manpower Administration," Big Hit Music said in a statement. "Other members will fulfill their military duty in turn according to their individual plans."

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Big Hit issued another statement on Twitter, saying the company and BTS members are "looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment." 

The band recently performed together in Busan, but only solo projects are planned until 2025. The group announced a hiatus earlier this summer.

South Korean law mandates that all able-bodied men need to perform at least 18 months of military service, with limited exemptions for athletes, musicians and others who "enhance national prestige." BTS members are all in their mid-to-late twenties, having taken advantage of the exemption rule due to their fame.

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But South Korean officials have recently implied that the "Dynamite" singers should serve in their country's military. Lee Ki Sik, commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration, said it was "desirable" for BTS members to enlist to ensure fairness.

The issue was hotly-debated, with opponents arguing that it was unfair to make draft exceptions for rich and famous people. K-pop fans had generally opposed the conscription, echoing many upset Elvis fans when the rock legend was drafted into the U.S. military at the height of his fame.

Opinion surveys in recent weeks showed that the public was split over whether the BTS members should serve in the military.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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