BTS ARMYs all over the world woke up to a notification from the world’s biggest boy band’s official Weverse account that J-Hope, or Jung Hoseok, is going to begin his mandatory military enlistment soon.
The rapper and dancer is beginning the process of enlisting for mandatory military service, his label announced Sunday, meaning he’ll become the second member of the K-pop sensations to enroll in the army after Jin.
“We would like to inform our fans that j-hope has initiated the military enlistment process by applying for the termination of his enlistment postponement,” Big Hit Music said in the statement, adding it asked fans for their “continued love and support for j-hope until he completes his military service and safely returns.”
Almost all able-bodied men in South Korea are required to serve in the army for 18 months by the time they are 28 – but in 2020, the country’s parliament passed a bill allowing pop stars to defer their service until age 30.
The announcement for J-Hope, 29, comes just months after 30-year-old singer Jin, the oldest BTS member, began his military service in December. Jin’s arrival at the army base was met with much fanfare, including media and fans gathering outside despite his previous pleas for them to stay away. Big Hit has said that all seven BTS members would serve their mandatory military service.
Just hours after the agency’s announcement, J-Hope took to Weverse to interact with his fans and assure them that he will be back soon. During a live session, the rapper shared that fellow member Jin called him and gave him advice, and that he has already prepared something special for his fans during his time away.
Despite the uncertainty of the future, J-Hope remained positive and optimistic, promising his fans that he will “go and come back quickly.” He also promised another live session for fans ahead of his departure for the military.
But J-Hope has a special gift for ARMYs before he leaves for his service. The label released a separate statement announcing that the rapper would release a new solo single called ‘On The Street’ on March 3.
Fans have long worried that the band’s success could be derailed by military service.
BTS have become worldwide superstars since debuting in 2013, earning No. 1 singles in more than 100 countries, more than 48 million followers on Twitter and their first Grammy nomination in 2020. They have also become an important part of the South Korean economy – a 2019 study showed BTS was responsible for 0.3% of the country’s gross domestic product with $4.9 billion in revenue.
BTS announced in 2022 it would take a break for members to pursue solo projects, though they are expected to reconvene as a group around 2025, according to Big Hit Music.
Other younger BTS members are to join the military in coming years one after another, meaning that the world’s biggest boy band must take a hiatus, likely for a few years. Their enlistments have prompted a fierce domestic debate over whether it’s time to revise the country’s conscription system to expand exemptions to include prominent entertainers like BTS, or not to provide such benefits to anyone.
Meanwhile, Disney+ Hotstar recently started streaming the documentary J-Hope In the Box. The special follows the international music sensation every step of the way as he works to release his first-ever solo album ‒ Jack In The Box. Over the course of the documentary, viewers were given a never-before-seen look at the creative challenges faced during the album’s preparation process, as well as front row seats to J-Hope’s 2022 Lollapalooza performance and the album’s listening party.