BTS break sparks debate over activism, military immunity

Seoul, South Korea (AP) – Surprising announcement BTS Last week, they were taking a break to focus on their members’ solo projects, which shocked their global fan base, shook their brand’s stock price and left many questions about the future of the K-pop supergroup.

HYBEThe company behind the band has denied that the band is on hold — a term used to translate the band’s emotional dinnertime video announcement. In the days since, the band members have remained active on social media, continuing to post posts, photos and assurances that the band hasn’t broken up.

Despite the direct impact – HYBEThe stock initially fell more than 25% and has yet to fully recover – several factors may still play a role BTS‘ future.One is the looming enlistment of the elderly BTS Members, as well as the engagement of the group and its loyal fans, known as ARMY, will continue to engage with social issues.

2020, at its peak BTS‘ After that success, the South Korean government revised the national military code to require able-bodied South Korean men to serve in the military for about two years.Revised law allows top K-pop stars — including Kim, oldest member BTS – If they receive a government medal for improving the country’s cultural reputation and apply for an extension, they will defer their military service until the age of 30.all BTS Members meet the criteria for recipients of the 2018 Government Medal.

“Obviously, conscription is imminent, so they might think it’s a good thing to do something alone before it’s too late, which is why I think conscription is the biggest factor,” said Lee Dong Yeun, a professor at Korea National University of Art.

have phone calls – including from South KoreaFormer Minister of Culture – Application for Exemption BTS for their contribution to improving South Koreainternational reputation. But critics say such exemptions distort drafting rules to favor the privileged.

Jin, 29, is expected to enlist this year unless he is exempt.

Membership has always been a headache for everyone HYBE; BTS It once accounted for 90% of the label’s profits. Currently, the group accounts for 50%-60% of the brand’s profits, according to a report by eBest Investment & Securities.

The eBest report noted that the rapid drop in share prices may have been due to “anticipation that group-wide activity may be uncertain following discharge”.

HYBE It has been trying to diversify its product portfolio by launching new K-pop bands, making online games and launching Korean language tutorials.

As the most successful K-pop group to date, with hits like “Dynamite” and “Butter”, BTS Over the years, he has garnered a lot of attention on social media and every time new music is released. They recently performed several sold-out shows in the U.S., became the first K-pop artist to be nominated for a Grammy, released the anthology album “Proof,” and campaigned against targeting Asians by going to the United Nations and to the White House. Hate crime.

“Once you’re successful, like BTS Having been successful, then that means having a continual expectation to keep doing something related to what you’ve already done, where you’ve the most recent version BTS CedarBough Saeji, professor of Korean and East Asian studies at Pusan ​​National University, said:

She said Tuesday’s announcement showed the band intends to figure out “where they are going, undisturbed by others” and “be able to choose their own path forward as artists.”

Last week’s statement also cast doubt on the group’s social justice efforts, which include vocal support for the Black Lives Matter movement and the anti-violence movement. BTS‘ A legion of fans embraced these causes, donating $1 million to Black Lives Matter following the death of George Floyd.

But the group faces mushrooming questions about why it’s not so outspoken about its own country’s discrimination.

A leading Korean newspaper recently published an op-ed in which the author pondered why South Koreadespite the BTS – “Anti-Discrimination and Human Rights Ambassador” – 15 years of fighting for anti-discrimination laws.

“It’s an irony,” the author said. “South Korea Always need their strength. “

The lack of anti-discrimination laws in the country results in unfair treatment of women and foreigners alike.

Jumin Lee, Why Anti-Discrimination Laws? The author of the book told The Associated Press that the country urgently needs an anti-discrimination law.

South Korea Basically the same as the Jim Crow South in the US. Equal protection exists as a constitutional concept, but there is no enactment legislation that would allow the government to force private businesses to comply,” Lee said. “That means in practice, if I were a business owner, I could put up a sign on my door tomorrow, It said ‘No Homosexuals’, ‘No Blacks’ or ‘No Old People’ and the Constitutional Court did not intervene in particular. , the law can hardly stop me. “

Lee recently expressed disappointment that the band did not speak out on important domestic issues.

BTS Their business people know that it’s profitable to have a voice in the US, but doing the same at home will be more trouble than it’s worth. So they didn’t,” Lee tweeted after the band’s visit to Washington.

Still, Lee said the band’s silence was understandable, noting that BTS If they do speak up, they will be met with “apathy at best and hostility at worst” from politicians.

Despite the backlash, some South Korean celebrities such as singers Harisu and Ha:tfelt have been speaking out on sensitive topics such as anti-discrimination laws and feminism.

Cannes-winning actor Song Kang-ho and director Park Chan-wook were blacklisted by the government of ousted President Park Geun-hye after the 2014 sinking of the Sewol ferry that killed 304 people in one of the country’s worst disasters – hye , pointed out Korean pop culture scholar Areum Jeong.

“So, while many idols may be politically aware, they may choose not to discuss social issues,” Zheng said.

Some BTS In a statement last week, the members said they are struggling with the group’s success and are having trouble writing new songs.

“For me, it’s like a group BTS Until ‘On’ and ‘Dynamite’ were within my grasp, but after ‘Butter’ and ‘Permission to Dance’, I don’t know what kind of combination we are anymore,” said member RM. “Whenever I When writing lyrics and songs, it really matters what kind of story and message I want to convey, but that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. “

Although this makes BTS‘ The next step may be, Saeji says that their continued candor is necessary because of how much influence the group has had on their fan base.

“They meet the fans with the same honesty and say to them, ‘When I needed help, you got my help. Now I need my help,'” she said. “‘I need to be alone. Think for myself, know what lyrics I want to write, know my own thoughts, and let myself be inspired.'”

Copyright © 2022 The Washington Times, LLC.

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