BTS continues to be a hot topic in the global media after all the members officially completed their mandatory military service.
On Tuesday, December 12, the English BBC news media published an article titled “BTS enlists in the military – what’s next for the biggest K-Pop stars?” that caught attention.
The BBC article began by comparing BTS to the legendary English group, The Beatles, stating, “Imagine if The Beatles disbanded at the height of their fame to fulfill military service. That’s what the members of BTS, the biggest pop band in the world today, have done.”
Comparisons between BTS and The Beatles are not uncommon; the entertainment world and international media often compare the two groups, both of which achieved great success and were hailed as the most successful groups in their respective generations.
The BBC also mentioned the success achieved by Jungkook after debuting as a solo singer, highlighting that the idol joined the military only 4 weeks after “reaching the peak of his solo career” in Times Square, New York.
Jungkook’s debut album, titled GOLDEN, reached number one on several global charts, and the solo dance for his hit song “Standing Next to You” has become a trend on the TikTok social media platform.
The news site also added that as Jungkook soared to a new peak of fame, he had to hit the brakes and return to Korea to fulfill his mandatory military service.
BBC then explained BTS’s military enlistment by delving into the unique historical and social background of South Korea, the only divided country remaining in the world, and technically still at war.
While most Korean men are required to serve 18 months of mandatory military service, there are privileges, such as military exemption granted to Olympic medalists and classical musicians. BBC also emphasized BTS previous exemption discussions.
However, in October 2022, BTS confirmed that they would fulfill their military duties, effectively ending the controversial opinions surrounding them and mandatory military service.
Commenting on this, Grace Kao, a professor at Yale University specializing in K-Pop, said, “For Western audiences, it seems quite harsh that those at the peak of success have to stop and go on forced hiatus, but this is a common reality in South Korea.”
Nevertheless, analysts believe that BTS is likely to maintain their popularity through the support of their fandom, ARMY.
On Monday, December 11, a BTS song released six years ago titled “Spring Day” successfully climbed to the top of the iTunes charts in the United States and the United Kingdom.
“ARMY puts BTS songs at the top of the charts when BTS is not around… I always admire the love and appreciation that this fandom gives,” wrote a fan on the Reddit forum.
The high level of dedication from the world’s largest fan base is likely to sustain BTS’s status, say industry observers.
Jeff Benjamin, a K-pop columnist at Billboard magazine, expressed his opinion, “In general, wherever you are, if a music group goes on hiatus, it will affect their popularity. But I dare say that if there’s a group that can defy this trend, it’s BTS.”
Meanwhile, amidst the growing K-Pop industry, BTS’s absence is now seen as an opportunity for other groups to shine.
Jimmyn Parc, a K-Pop academic based in Malaysia, said, “BTS has been too focused by the media. This break will give other K-Pop groups a chance to get more attention. It’s a mutually beneficial situation for this industry.”