Since 1957, all South Korean men have to enlist in the military. Unfortunately, our favourite K-Pop idols are not exempted from this as well. Well, some were. Till last year, Korean idols that had lived overseas and/or had dual nationality were not required to serve in the military. However, since 6th June 2021, the South Korean Military Law has changed and no, they’re not in our favour.
Idols Affected By The New Korean Military Law
According to the new law, those who have dual citizenship, have to either serve in the military or drop their Korean nationality and be considered a foreigner. Since Stray Kids’ Bang Chan and Felix decided to opt for a single nationality, i.e., Australian, they will be exempt from this law. However, Seventeen’s Vernon, who is listed as an American as well as a Korean will have to enlist. Had he dropped his Korean nationality before he turned 18 (the minimum enlistment age), he would have been excused from the mandatory service. On the other hand, ENHYPEN’s Jake, who is Korean-Australian still has a chance to decide as he has just turned 18.
As for idols that are ethnically Korean but do not have a Korean passport, they’ll be considered foreigners and will not have to enlist. Such idols include KARD’s BM and NCT’s Johnny who are American, and NCT/Super M’s Mark who is Canadian. This also applies to The Boyz’s Kevin and Jacob. However, the same can’t be said for their member, Eric who was born in South Korea but moved to USA.
Korean-born idols that lived in a different country were previously exempt, but not anymore. If they move back to South Korea and live for 3 or more years they are required to serve in the military. So, like The Boyz’s Eric, we have Monsta X’s I.M who has lived in South Korea since he was a teenager and so will have to enlist.
There is a silver lining for some still. As for the rest of the foreign idols like GOT7’s Mark, Jackson and BamBam or Pentagon’s Yuto and Yanan who are ethnically not Korean, this law will not apply to them. Also, idols like BTS’ Jin who have contributed massively to the South Korean economy and culture can push their enlistment till the age of 30.
Is the new law better? What is your take on it? Let us know in the comments below.