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59% favor active duty exemption for top pop artists: survey

April 8, 2022 - 16:59 By Jie Ye-eun
Members of K-pop sensation BTS pose for photos after arriving at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas to attend the 64th Grammy Awards on April 3. (BTS’ official Twitter)
A new opinion poll out Friday showed some 6 in 10 South Koreans think K-pop sensation BTS and other top artists who have contributed to boosting the country’s image should be exempted from active duty military service.

A Gallup Korea survey of 1,004 Koreans aged 18 and older, conducted from Tuesday to Thursday, showed nearly 59 percent responding that K-pop artists should be able to carry out an alternative military duty or be granted exemption from military service. Thirty-three percent said exemption or alternative service should not apply to pop artists.

Eight percent declined to respond.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level. The results were based on telephone interviews through random-digit dialing with a response rate of 11.5 percent, according to Gallup Korea.

Under the current law, all able-bodied Korean men are required to serve in the military for 18 to 22 months. But at the recommendation of the culture minister, international award-winning athletes and classical musicians can receive exemption from military duty or do an alternative service.

While the law does not apply to K-pop acts, many have supported the idea of including top pop artists.

Last year, three lawmakers proposed bills calling for active duty exemptions to apply to a wider range of artists. If passed, it would allow BTS and other prominent K-pop artists to skip active duty.

The parliamentary national defense committee is to consider such a bill in November.

In the meantime, BTS’ eldest member Jin can only postpone his military enlistment until the end of this year, when he turns 30, under the latest revision to the act that came into effect in 2020.