BTS member Jin begins his mandatory military service in the South Korean army

Suspension

SEOUL — K-pop singer Jin, the oldest member of South Korean boy band BTS, began his military service on Tuesday, making him the first in his boy band to do so — to the chagrin of millions of his fans.

The process surrounding Jin’s entry into the army almost has the feel of a military one, too, with authorities setting up an “operating room” to monitor any safety risk posed by the hordes of fans expected to bid farewell to their star.

About 270 riot police and ambulances have been deployed on standby around the main recruitment training center as Jin enters training camp in A division on the front lines in Yeoncheon County on the border with North Korea.

BTS member Jin: What do you know about mandatory military service in South Korea?

Recruitment of Korean celebrities often attracts fans and journalists who try to catch a glimpse of the stars before they leave the public eye for nearly two years.

BTS’ agency HYBE said Monday that Jin, whose real name is Kim Seok Jin, will be taken to the military grounds without stopping to say goodbye “in order to prevent any accident from crowding.”

The day of registration at the training center is usually busy with recruits and their family members exchanging emotional goodbyes. The 30-year-old singer joins boot camp with a group of about 200 other recruits, many of them younger than he is.

All healthy South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28 must serve at least 18 months in the country’s armed forces, but government-recognized K-pop stars like Jin can defer their service until age 30.

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Jin told the “BTS Army” — the official name for the boy group’s multimillion-strong fan base — to refrain from attending his enrollment day. Despite his plea, fans are expected to show up and HYBE warned in a statement Monday of potential overcrowding.

The K-pop heartthrob caused a stir on social media earlier when he revealed his freshly shaven head. The South Korean military maintains strict grooming standards, including hair length regulations. “He’s cuter than I thought,” he said in a message posted to the Weverse fan community on Sunday.

Jin will undergo a physically demanding five-week basic training course before being assigned to a military unit. Army trainees learn basic skills like how to walk, shoot and throw a grenade.

The other six members of BTS are expected to fulfill their draft commitments based on their individual schedules. BTS, hailed as the biggest boy group in the world, plans to reunite as a group in 2025 after they complete their service.

Jin made his solo debut in October with the single “The Astronaut”, which sold over 1 million copies.

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