South Korea’s military has said it is “desirable” for the K-pop supergroup BTS to be conscripted to ensure fairness.
The nation is split over whether the boy band should be exempt from mandatory service in a country where all able-bodied men must perform between 18 and 21 months of military service.
However, exemptions are made for athletes, classical and traditional musicians and dancers who have won top prizes in competitions which boost the prestige of the country.
The parliament in Seoul passed a bill to allow global K-pop stars such as BTS to move the upper age for national service to 30.
But this means BTS’ eldest member, Jin, could face being called up next year because his 30th birthday is in December.
On Friday, the commissioner of the military manpower administration, Lee Ki Sik, told MPs it was “desirable” for BTS members to fulfil their military duties.
Earlier this week, defence minister Lee Jong-Sup ordered officials to examine whether a public survey is needed to make the decision. The culture minister Park Bo Gyoon said that his ministry would finalise its position soon.
But the Ministry of National Defence has rejected the idea of a survey.
According to the South Korean publication SBS, the ministry said in an official statement: “The Ministry of National Defence will not arrange a public poll on the matter, nor make decisions on the issue of BTS’ military service solely based on the result of the poll.”
One recent survey found that 61% of respondents supported exemptions for entertainers.
But 54% of people questioned for another poll said BTS should serve in the military.
In August, Mr Lee said if BTS members sign up for service they are likely to be allowed to continue practising and join the rest of the group on overseas tours.
People who are exempted will be released from the military after three weeks of basic training and must complete 544 hours of voluntary work.