Jin from K-pop group BTS finishes military service in South Korea

K-pop megastar Jin, the oldest member of boy band BTS, completed his mandatory military service in South Korea on Wednesday, though the last of his bandmates won’t be discharged and ready to resume their music careers for at least another year.

In an emotional reunion that was livestreamed, Jin, 31, was greeted with flowers by most of his bandmates outside an army base in the northern province of Yeoncheon, where he had served for 18 months. One of them, rapper RM, played part of the group’s 2020 hit single “Dynamite” on a saxophone.

The seven-member supergroup, which debuted in 2013, consists of Jin, Suga, J-Hope, RM, V, Jungkook and Jimin. By 2017, they had broken into the global music market, spearheading the rise of K-pop in the United States.

BTS member Jin salutes after being discharged from his mandatory military service in Yeoncheon, South Korea, on Wednesday.Jung Yeon-Je / AFP – Getty Images

That momentum was interrupted by South Korea’s requirement that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 serve 18 to 21 months in the military or equivalent civilian service. South Korea is still technically at war with North Korea, after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice rather than a peace treaty.

Exceptionally skilled athletes and artists are sometimes exempted from military service, and supporters had argued that BTS members and other K-pop stars were equally valuable cultural ambassadors for South Korea. Lawmakers disagreed, but they allowed the pop stars to delay enlistment until the age of 30.

BTS Jin Military Service
Jin, 31, is the oldest member of BTS.Im Byung-shik / Yonhap via AP

Jin was the first to enlist in December 2022, followed by J-Hope in April 2023. Suga began alternative military service in September after being sidelined due to what local media said were the effects of shoulder surgery.

The last four — RM, Jimin, Jungkook and V — began their service in December and will be discharged in June 2025, at which point the complete band will be able to reform.

BTS’s management agency, BigHit Music, had urged fans not to visit the army base on the day of Jin’s release, citing concerns about overcrowding. He is expected to attend a fan event in Seoul, the South Korean capital, on Thursday.

In the meantime, a photo posted on X on Wednesday showed the seven members of BTS sitting together, with balloons on the wall behind them spelling out “Jin is back.”

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