BTS granted military call-up delay

SEOUL (AFP) – Trailblazing South Korean boyband BTS have became the first group to have a foreign-language song enter the United States (US) Billboard chart at number one, as Parliament in Seoul cleared the way for them to delay compulsory military service.

Life Goes On, sung predominantly in Korean, topped the US Hot 100 in its debut week, Billboard said on Monday, the first foreign-language song to do so in the chart’s 62-year history.

More good news arrived for the seven stars when South Korea’s parliament on Tuesday revised the military conscription law to give entertainers who have received a government medal for raising the national profile an extra two years to perform before enlistment.

All seven BTS members were awarded the distinction in 2018.

South Korea requires all able-bodied men to serve in uniform to defend it against the nuclear-armed North, usually for 18 months once they turn 28.

The South remains technically at war with the North and maintains a compulsory conscription system to defend itself against Pyongyang’s 1.2 million-strong army.

The issue had threatened to disrupt BTS’ progress, with their oldest member Jin, 27, previously unable to delay his service beyond the end of 2021. “Congratulations Jin,” one fan wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “I can’t tell you my happiness.”

BTS – or Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts – have become one of the biggest acts in the world since they launched seven years ago, and made a billionaire of their managing agency’s founder.

File photo shows BTS members performing at the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration in New YorK. PHOTO: AP