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BTS, Exo, Super Junior And BTOB: The Impact Of K-pop Group Members Going To The Army

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

On 17th October this year, the world-renowned South Korean group BTS, through an official note from their company, Big Hit Music, announced that they will be starting their military service. The note left ARMYs (fan club name) upset and people who don’t know K-pop confused, thinking that the group is over. 

In the K-pop industry, it is common for male idols to go into the army, as Korean military service is mandatory for able-bodied men to enlist between the ages of 18 and 28. For this reason, music companies usually debut their singers when they are still teenagers and before the age of 23.

Group and Careers Solos

Military service lasts between 18 and 21 months, depending on the function and area chosen. The male groups have members of different ages, and often the older members usually enlist first when they are at the age limit for service. The agencies and the idols themselves plan what their next steps will be, without the complete formation of the group.  

BTS

Most groups choose to promote their members’ solo careers during this period – they release albums and singles or focus on acting careers. The BTS boys, since July, have been focusing on their solo projects, starting with the release of J-Hope‘s album Jack in the Box. Beyond that, an official note was published revealing that they plan to return to group activities around 2025.

EXO

Some companies also continue with the group’s activities and take the opportunity of the break from enlistments and layoffs to have a comeback with all members. The group EXO, which has 9 members,  released in 2019 the single and album of the same name, OBSESSION, with only 6 members. In 2021, they were able to reunite the entire group and made a comeback with the song Don’t Fight the Feeling and a special album with the same name.

It’s important to point out that fans have to be patient to see the whole formation together again. The group Super Junior took almost 10 years for all members to fulfill their military service, but since their debut in 2005 they have continued to make music together with nine active members.

The group BTOB, after a 4-year hiatus, released in 2022 their third studio album Be Together with the new single The Song in celebration of their 10-year anniversary. “I think that it was thanks to Melody (fan club name) and the people who loved BTOB that we were able to release an album when our military hiatus was over. I want to thank all of them” said the member Eunkwang at the global press conference about the release of the album.

Unfortunately for solo singers, they have to stop their activities entirely. Singer Wonho, through the official note from his agency, Highline Entertainment, announced that he will do his military service until 2024. But as a form of comfort for his fans, he has released a boxed calendar and planners with photos and messages called WONHO 2023 – 2024 Season’s Greetings, covering the years he will be away.

the farewell

When idols go into the military, some choose to leave letters on official fan club platforms for fans or also release songs as a form of farewell. In 2018, the group Big Bang, posted the song Flower Road, after the last members went into the military,  to comfort fans and describe the feeling of saying goodbye at that moment.

Shownu from Monsta X made two vlogs, recording the moment he shaved his head and the last meal he had with his team members before going off to the army.

A tradition has been created among EXO members to take a picture with their hand on the shaved head of the next member that will join the army. The EXOLs (fan club name) already look forward to this photo.

The article above was edited by Mariana do Patrocínio. Liked this type of content? Check out Her Campus Cásper Líbero home page for more!

Mayara Campos Passos

Casper Libero '25

I love the world of pop music, I have a real addiction to music awards shows. In my spare time, I love to discover curiosities about diverse cultures. I like to discover new things and write about them.