BTS’ Suga to fulfill military service as social service agent
Suga of K-pop sensation BTS will carry out his military service as a social service agent, military and music industry sources said Tuesday.
They said the 29-year-old rapper was assigned to be a social service agent instead of an active-duty soldier. But details, including when his enlistment will be, remain unknown.
Suga, born in 1993, had his service deferred until the end of next year under a revised law that allows “those who excel in popular culture and art” to postpone their service until the age of 30.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are obliged to serve between 18 and 21 months in the military.
Big Hit Music, the band’s agency, refused to confirm the news.
“(Members) will be enlisting in the military in order according to their individual plans,” it said. “We cannot confirm information on their personal matters.”
It is not known why Suga was assigned to the non-active-duty position available to men with health issues. Some say this may have something to do with the surgery he received in 2020 to repair his torn shoulder labrum.
Jin, the band’s oldest member, will begin his active-duty military service later in the day.
What’s a social service agent?
Serving as a social service agent is an alternative form of military service in South Korea, for those deemed unfit to serve as soldiers in a military base due to a number of factors such as health, financial difficulties and family situation.
In the case of Suga, a shoulder injury from a traffic accident in 2012 is suspected to be the reason for his qualification.
Social service agents do not belong to the military, but serve in one of a broad array of government agencies and welfare institutes — from schools and government buildings to local parking lots, nursing homes and subway stations.
The term of service is three months longer than the Korean Army – 21 months, including three weeks of basic military training.
As social service is often regarded as being less strenuous than serving as a soldier, the qualifications for serving as an agent have sometimes become the center of political scandal when it was given to sons of high-profile officials or politicians.
On the other hand, it is also debated whether social service can be regarded forced labor for people with health issues. Such forced labor is banned by the International Labor Organization’s fundamental conventions, which came into force in South Korea in April.
BTS’s label Big Hit Music showed no clear response to the reports.
“Those who qualify as social service agents can also serve as soldiers if they want,” a military official said in an interview with local media.
“It’s a matter in which the individual decides (whether or not he will serve as a soldier),” the official added.
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