And then I’ll get back to US politics, I promise.
After years of waiting around and negotiating behind the scenes, BTS has decided to go ahead with their mandatory military enlistments. Kim Seokjin, the eldest of the group, could enlist within the month after the release of his latest solo work.
I love the way BTS and BigHit are handling this. They’ve been jerked around enough by the SK government trying to profit from them while holding enlistment over their heads. Both BTS and ARMY went through a lot, emotionally, since Festa dinner this year. For the most part fans seem at ease and trusting BTS in these decisions at this point. There is sorrow, of course, but ARMY is willing to wait, having worried about this issue for a long time. It’s good to have things resolved and wonderful to see BTS take charge of their future.
And with this addition from the parent company, HYBE and BTS take steps to see that the government and Ministry of South Korea can’t force BTS into concerts where the government would receive all the rewards (Military members can’t get outside pay while in service, though pre-recorded work still can earn money for them.)
With this statement today, it’s clear the Ministry does not want to let go of BTS as an asset.
As you might expect, ARMY says #LeaveBTSAlone and let them serve as they wish, in peace. If this is anything like the post-Festa break, fans will receive plenty of solo content and collabs to keep us well-fed. Personally, I plan to study Korean as best I can, so that once they are back together in 2025 I won’t be quite so much at the mercy of Weverse’s slow production of English subtitles.
I agree with this prediction by @omermeroz. ARMY will be here, waiting and ready for BTS to return.
BTS returning in 2025 be likepic.twitter.com/aKedAVYakE
— ⟭⟬ ᴮᴱDr. omeroz⁷ 🏖🏟 ⟬⟭ 💜 (@omermeroz) October 17, 2022
ETA: Honestly a lot of western media is not getting the details on this correct. Here is one observer who seems very much on the ball — Elaine “Lainey” Lui — who probably understands more because she is not only a culture writer but has been a fan of BTS for years herself. Much more in the entire post, and you should read it all.
…As I’ve always said, BTS is nothing if not highly organised – and what we see in the present is the result of months and months of meticulous planning in their past. Today is just the latest example of the work and the strategy that’s been in place since before June, when they announced during their anniversary, aka Festa, that they’d be focusing on individual projects. Shortly after that, j-hope released his debut solo album, Jack in the Box, and then headlined Lollapalooza….
And my point is that there will still be content delivered on a steady drip until 2025-ish. In addition to the six upcoming solo releases, there are still multiple episodes of their variety show, Run BTS!, that have yet to be released. Earlier this year, BTS’s company, HYBE, and Disney+ confirmed a multiyear collaboration that would include five streaming projects. Only two of those projects have happened so far.
…this announcement today, confirming that all seven members will carry out their national duty and perform military service, is another example of how you cannot apply western pop culture expectations and standards to this group. This is a resistance of privilege….
This is what I mean when I say you can’t analyse BTS through the mainstream pop culture lens that has shaped our understanding of western celebrity. You can only understand BTS by understanding BTS…and what I can tell you with certainty is this: Every member of BTS loves being Bangtan. If they’re saying right now that they are still Bangtan, and will still be Bangtan, there’s more than enough reason to believe them.
ETA: And Vulture, the cultural side of New York Magazine, seems to have someone who definitely knows ARMY writing about the situation for them:
BTS to Fulfill Military Service, Millions Now ARMY Wives
…The band has yet to comment on the news, but fans are already accepting their new roles as military wives, promising to stick by the Tannies forever (#아포방포). The only thing no one could possibly come to terms with? The loss of Suga’s long hair — that tragedy will haunt fans until the end of time.