Something all new and heavily invested Kpop fans deal with is the mandatory military service all male Korean citizens have to begin by the time they turn 30 years old. There are all sorts of ins and outs and rules surrounding the service and a new exemption was recently unveiled that makes it even more complicated to understand for those of us not living in that world. Long story short, it honors Korean musical artists that have contributed to boosting the Korean brand similarly to celebrated athletes by allowing them to opt-out of doing their 18 months to two years. It’s all very interesting and, as a completely non-Korean fan of Kpop, I don’t really have an opinion on this legal and cultural decision. Not my place.
All of that being said, I don’t think this exemption is going to impact that many groups that I continue to support and love. It’s for the very tippy top groups, the BTSs and the …well, at this point, just BTS as far as I know. And that’s cool. While I mourn my true loves entering the military, I also kind of relish the opportunity to focus on someone new for a while. It allows me the space and the attention to broaden my own horizons. And now that Kpop has matured both as an industry as well as many of the idols within it, we are seeing some great post-military service comebacks.
This past week, the final member of one of my fav fav groups, Highlight (formerly Beast) was discharged from the military and welcomed into the open arms of his hyungs. The team is back together again. Largely. Kind of. As you recall, their rapper and producer (and one of my very high ranking biases) was caught up in the scandal surrounding celebrities and other gross humans recording women during sex and distributing those videos through chat groups. Though he didn’t take any videos, send any videos, or anything like that, this member did receive, view, and not report one such clip. Because of this involvement, he officially left Highlight and slipped into the military quietly. He still holds a position within their self-owned company and, unless I’m completely off base here, will likely continue to write and produce music once he’s been released from his recently extended time in the civil service. Due to an injury, he was moved from active duty military to civil service resulting in a longer time commitment.
But we’re not here to rehash old yucky stuff. We are here to welcome Dongwoon back into the fold, encourage him to get some rest, and to wait patiently for some sort of news as to whether or not they are going to do a comeback together again. While I am still a bit sore from the loss of a very important member, this group is so amazingly talented, I’m eager to hear what they have in store for us.