Mandatory military service is a requirement for every male Korean citizen aged 18-35 years old. By ‘every male Korean citizen’, it means even Korean celebrities are not an exemption. Although there were some who tried to dodge the duty, KPop military enlistment is still involuntary and a call of duty for the country. Anyone who attempts to receive special treatment is often met with low tolerance from the public and punishment from the government.
Who’s going to enlist soon?
The military service usually lasts for 21 months, or more depending on the assigned branch. A man who enlists for service usually goes through a physical examination to see if he can go through service. If not, he will be obligated to work for public service for two years. This means they will work for social welfare organizations or public institutions.
One of the most prominent Kpop stars who will enlist for the military soon is T.O.P from Big Bang. Fans had expected him to enlist next year but according to reports, the rapper has completed his conscripted policeman enlistment screening test. If ever he was selected, he may start serving early 2017.
Another star who may start serving on 2017 is Hallyu heartthrob Lee Min Ho. His agency, MYM Entertainment, already gave out some details regarding Lee’s enlistment. However, he will not be serving as an active-duty officer due to his injuries and accident issues. Instead, the actor will serve as a public service officer.
There are also rumors that the members of boy group 2PM will enlist to the military soon. With the exception of Nichkhun (who’s Thai-American), the members of 2PM expressed that they plan to enlist together so that their fans will not wait for a long time for them. Rapper and vocalist Taecyeon plans to enlist on 2017. As for the rest of 2PM, there are no confirmations as of the moment.
What happens to those who try to escape their duty?
One of the most infamous cases of an attempted dodge of KPop military enlistment is by former star Steve Yoo. The Korean-American pop singer was due to be drafted in 2002. However, he suddenly gave up his Korean citizenship and became a naturalized US citizen. The South Korean government saw this as a form of desertion and deported Steve Yoo. He was also banned from entering South Korea permanently.
Those who attempt to neglect military service are often rewarded with harsh penalties both from the government and the public. Korean pop columnist Ha Jae Keun said, “The mood against draft dodgers is so hostile that nowadays entertainers feel it’s better to simply get it over with.”