Article by: Samantha DiBucci
Video by: Nicholas Sylvis
Oct. 20th, 2022: The almost decade long journey of the world’s biggest boy band of today, BTS, may be coming to an end. Why? The South Korean military draft. All men must serve time in the military before they are deemed too old and unfit for the position. The band’s oldest member, Jin, has run out of time.
Oct. 17, 2022, BigHit Entertainment came out with a statement that said they will finally release all the members to the draft. The members would have usually been drafted earlier in their lives, but in 2020, Korea had let them push back their draft date because of how much the band helped their economy.
Hyundai Research Institute studied economics and BTS in 2018 and said that the band was contributing more than $3.6 billion to the South Korean economy every year. The band also increased tourism, with one in thirteen people coming to Korea saying it was because of them who triggered their interest. In 2019, merchandise connected with BTS produced almost 9 billion dollars for Korea with things such as clothing, cosmetics, and so forth. Just from one song hitting the number one spot on Billboard (“Dynamite”), created 7,928 more jobs for their country. They had even taken the throne from artists like PSY with “Gangnam Style”; which brought Korea 1 trillion dollars to their economy.
The amount of money the band has made for other countries almost seems unbelievable too. With fans willing to travel to see the band, it increased travel income in other countries. In just the city of London, they made around $84 million due to their two sold out shows at Wembley Stadium.
With the draft being announced for the members of BTS, the stock price of their company fell 2.5% on the same day it was announced. The company had lost almost half of its market value since the beginning of the year when they first started talking about the band going solo and moving on with their lives.
“Yeah, my girlfriend is real upset about BTS getting deployed,” Thiel student, Mary Jones, said. “Deciding not to exempt the biggest K-pop group, that has affected the world, and is known well in every country, just for the sake of keeping tradition?! To me, making this decision, and choosing to force the members of a band that have been able to bring the country into a good light through means other than violence is just spelling disaster for Korea at this rate. They should have honestly kept them exempt from the rule of having every male required to be enlist for the military, because BTS has done far more for Korea’s popular standing and unification than their military ever has.”
BTS is known for always putting others first and fighting for equality. BTS has donated to many organizations such as ChildFund Korea (helps victims of violence), Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center (helps children in poverty get medical treatment), Seoul Samsun School (helps the hearing impaired receive music education), and so forth. In just those three organizations, they donated almost $250,000, which does not cover half of the groups that they have donated too.
What they are most known for is almost every one of their albums includes lyrics about mental health, social justice, and self-care. BTS teamed up with UNICEF in 2017 after they released their “Love Yourself: Her” album. They made an anti-violence campaign called LOVE MYSELF. The group donated a portion of their album sales and 100% of all profits from their merch to the cause.
“I never really thought that I’d get into BTS, especially K-Pop, but they made me feel happy. I really like the message behind their songs; especially when they talk about self-love, growing as a person, and not giving into societies norms,” Thiel’s first year Blessing Tete said. “I think they’ve left it at a good place. They’ve impacted so many lives and the difference that they made has been very impactful. I think they saved me from depression and even though they’re thousands of miles away, they still somehow managed to connect with millions of people, and I think that’s just something really special.”
No matter what will come of the draft, BTS’s fans, ARMY, seem to show they will stick by their side no matter what.