Seoul, South Korea – Suga, a member of the K-pop supergroup BTS, began his mandatory military service as a social worker on Friday, an alternative form of military service in the country.
The 30-year-old Suga was the third member of the group to fulfill his military duties. The other two, Jin and J-Hope, are already on active duty at military bases.
“I will serve faithfully and come back… please stay healthy and see you all again in 2025!”Suga wrote in a message on the online fan platform Weverse.
BTS’s management agency, Big Hit Music, said Suga later began commuting to a workplace designated by the country’s alternative military service system.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve in the army, navy or air Force for 18-21 months under a conscription system introduced due to threats from rival North Korea. People with physical and mental problems can instead serve for 21 months in non-military institutions such as social centers, community service centers and post offices.
Local media reported that Suga’s alternative service was probably related to shoulder surgery, which he underwent in 2020.
Soldiers on active duty must begin their service with a five-week basic military training in boot camps. Those who perform an alternative service are subject to three weeks of basic military training and, according to the military personnel administration, they can choose when they want to complete it.
It is not known in which installation Suga began to serve. In a statement earlier this week, BTS’s Bit Hit Music management agency asked Suga’s fans not to visit the signer at his workplace while he was on duty.
“Please convey your warm regards and encouragements only in their hearts,” said Big Hit Music. “We ask for your continued love and support for (Suga) until he finishes his service and returns.”
Last year, an intense public debate broke out about whether BTS members should receive special exemptions from their military duties. But the management agency of the group eventually said that all seven members would fulfill their obligations .
South Korean law grants exceptions to athletes, classical and traditional musicians, as well as dancers and other performers, if they are considered to have increased the country’s prestige. K-pop singers are not entitled to a special permit.