PARIS, Nov. 20 (Yonhap) -- Globally acclaimed superstars BTS and other high-flying K-pop stars will not be exempted from mandatory military service under the government's new guidelines on conscription waivers, the culture minister has said.
Since early this year, a government task force has been working to revamp the guidelines to raise fairness in military conscription, and the final result is due for announcement this week.
The government has been facing rising calls to allow BTS a military service waiver, which is often given to global award-winning athletes and classical musicians, in recognition of the septet's role in promoting the national image of Korea across the world.
"In the case of BTS, I personally wish I could allow exemptions for them under certain standards, but the Military Manpower Administration and the Ministry of National Defense (in charge of conscription) are inclined to downsize the overall scope (of exemption)," Culture Minister Park Yang-woo said in a meeting with Korean reporters in Paris on Tuesday.
"Unlike classical arts or sports, it is difficult to fix the criteria of the selection in the popular culture and arts fields, which makes it difficult to institutionalize (a waiver system)," the minister said.
alternative service system-reform
By Lee Joon-seung and Oh Seok-min
SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will cut the slots for alternative military service by about 1,300 in the coming years in an effort to cope with the dwindling number of men required to serve in the military amid a shrinking population, officials said Thursday.
By law, all able-bodied males in South Korea must complete between 18 and 24 months of compulsory military service. But the country still allows doctoral and masters degree holders, those with specialized industrial skills and sailors to work at state-designated institutes and companies instead of serving in the military.
The government, however, said that it did not review calls to allow special treatment for K-pop stars, such as members of BTS and other boy groups.
"The government decided not to review the issue, as it is not in line with the government's push to downsize the alternative service programs and efforts to enhance fairness and equality in the fulfillment of the mandatory military service," the government said in a release.
Fans and some politicians have voiced the need for granting exemptions to BTS which made international sensations by topping the Billboard charts. K-pop stars are often forced to leave the limelight in their prime to serve in the military.
Even for those getting other types of waivers, the rules will be tightened across the board, with more stringent oversight being applied to public health doctors and public service advocates going forward, a government source said.