Members of the South Korean pop boy band BTS will serve their mandatory military service, Yonhap news agency reported on Monday.
The band members' military conscription has gained nationwide attention in recent years, with the public divided on whether the K-pop supergroup should be exempt from mandatory service.
BTS' oldest member, Jin, will be the first to serve, the group's management firm said.
"Jin will revoke his request to delay his conscription at the end of this month and will follow conscription procedures required by the Military Manpower Administration," Yonhap quoted Big Hit Music as saying.
"All other members will also serve mandatory military duty according to their plans."
Divisions over military service exemptions
South Korean law requires all able-bodied men to undertake 18-21 months of military service.
Some special exceptions, however, are granted to classical musicians, Olympic athletes and artists who have won top awards in competitions that enhance national prestige.
Pop stars usually do not qualify for the exception, and dodging military duty can lead to imprisonment or social stigma.
South Korea's National Assembly had been debating whether BTS members should be granted an exemption — an issue that has sharply divided lawmakers.
Uncertainty looms over group's future
In August, South Korean Minister of National Defense Lee Jong-sup said that BTS members who serve for the military would likely be allowed to join non-serving band members in oversees group tours.
But BTS had announced in June that they were taking a break as a band to pursue solo projects.
They have still taken on occasional group performances, most recently over the weekend in the southern port of Busan in support of the city's EXPO bid.
fb/rs (AFP, Reuters)