After years of speculation and attempts to delay the inevitable, BTS has officially announced they will be enlisting in the military to complete South Korea’s compulsory 18-21 month service. This has understandably left the band’s fans, known as the ARMY, devastated.
The statement released by BTS’ label, BIGHIT MUSIC, clarifies that the seven members will resume group activities “around 2025.” Jin will be the first member to enlist after releasing and promoting his solo music in the coming days. All others are expected to follow suit in accordance with their own individual projects.
Their conscription is a highly controversial topic as exemptions are often given to top athletes and classical musicians. The case has been made repeatedly for that exception to be extended to BTS on the basis of their unprecedented worldwide success and that they contribute more than $3 billion to the South Korean economy every year.
Although fans were still holding out hope they wouldn’t have to be without BTS for so long, with the option of the band carrying out ambassador work instead put on the table as recently as August, they have chosen to spread messages of love and support, and have said they aren’t going anywhere.
Phrases like “forever with BTS,” “we will wait for you,” and “we love you, Jin” quickly began trending worldwide on Twitter, with fans coming together to express their gratitude for the years that have gone and those still to come.
“Between now and 2025, I’m not going anywhere,” one fan wrote. Others reminisced about a particularly emotional moment from their recent concert in Busan that took place Saturday, October 15. The band sang two of their love songs to their fans, “Young Forever” and “For Youth,” while the message “Rest of my life” appeared in the background.
Throughout the concert, BTS made sure to reassure fans this would not be their last, but the feeling they wouldn’t be together on stage for a while was inescapable.
Fans of Jin are particularly heartbroken as they will have to say goodbye as soon as next month. “Don’t worry, we’ll always be here. We love you so much!” said one, while another tried to convince themselves that the sooner he goes, the sooner he will come back.
The release date for Jin’s solo single hasn’t been announced yet, and there are few details about the other members’ solo projects. Apart from BIGHIT’s statement, no one from BTS has directly addressed the decision to enlist.
On Saturday, in Busan, BTS wrapped up their concert with their latest single “Yet To Come,” which tells anyone listening that BTS and ARMYs’ “best moment is yet to come.”