The MIC Drop on the BTS Hiatus


Lauren Benton

Is your playlist smooth like butter? Is it burning up like fire? Do your music choices light up like dynamite? Would you consider yourself a BTS Army?


Even if you wouldn’t consider yourself a fan of the popular K-Pop boy group, you’ve surely heard some of their popular songs that have hit American billboard charts such as Butter, Dynamite, and My Universe. Debuting in 2013, BTS, also known as Bangtan Sonyeondan or Bangtan Boys, took the world by storm in 2016 with the release of their album, Wings. According to Spotify, they’re the 45th most listened-to artist globally. On top of everything, the group has also had the spotlight in diplomatic settings; BTS previously visited the White House and met with President Joe Biden, and they have attended United Nations assemblies as well. 



On October 17th, Big Hit Music announced the big news of BTS’ fast approaching enlistment and how the eldest member, Kim Seok-jin, will be the first to enter service. The South Korean government previously granted him a two-year delay for the group’s contribution to the image and economic success of South Korea.


The topic of the group’s possible exemption from South Korea’s required military service previously sparked controversy across the nation of South Korea. Across the Pacific Ocean, it’s no different. There are varying views from person to person, but many fans are supporting the hiatus.


“I was a little surprised since I thought [BTS] paid to skip it since [some] were already in their thirties,” said senior Mariana Perez. “I think it’s good since it shows that it doesn’t matter how rich you are or who you are, you still have to do [required military service].”


Despite there being support for the decision made by Big Hit Music and BTS, there are still fans who find the decision distasteful. 


“I find [the required military service] kind of stupid,” said senior Daniela Leal Medina. “They have K-Pop idols doing military service when they’re the reason Korea’s economy is booming.”


The controversy sparks questions concerning how to measure who can become exempt from South Korea’s military service requirements. Because of this, some fans, such as mathematics teacher Julie Payne, are more neutral on the topic. 


“I first saw BTS in their ‘Danger’ dance practice video with my daughter back in 2014,” said Payne. “I wasn’t surprised [by the announcement] because it has been a topic for discussion and debate for some time. I can see both sides.  BTS are great guys who love their country and want to do what is expected of them.  I don’t believe they want to receive special treatment or ‘get out’ of doing service.  That’s why so many people like them; they are humble and don’t realize that they are global superstars.  However, if Olympic athletes and classical musicians are able to exempt military service, then why not BTS?  BTS contributes more to the economy of South Korea than anyone else through tourism and exports. There are many KPop groups that would like to be exempt, but who decides who has done enough?  That’s the question and most likely why the debate has taken so long.  We also can’t forget that South Korea is under threat of war at any time. They have seen the military requirement as a necessity to be prepared.”


Regardless of anyone’s opinions, the fanbase has not failed with handling the news of the group’s hiatus well. Tiktok and Twitter have been flooded with memes and inside jokes about the ordeal, and it seems that most fans will be ready to return alongside BTS in 2025.