Today is an emotional day for those of us in the BTS fandom, aka ARMY. It’s been an emotional few days, actually. No, no, f-ck that …it’s been an emotional year! Because we’ve been anticipating this week since back in June, during FESTA (BTS’s anniversary), when the band announced that they’d be focusing more on solo projects which resulted in all kinds of misreporting about a hiatus and a possible breakup.
It was none of those things but it was the conclusion of the first chapter in BTS’s story. Not only because RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook were interested in exploring experiences on their own outside of group activities but also because they are South Korean, and in their country, men are required to serve mandatory military service by the age of 28, with some extensions permitted by exception.
That is a Korean pop culture reality and to put it in perspective through a western lens, Justin Bieber and Harry Styles are both 28 years old right now. It would be like Harry wrapping up his tour and going straight into bootcamp (actual bootcamp and not some fancy gym in West Hollywood), and putting his career on pause for national duty.
Military service is a major consideration for Korean male stars where career management is concerned. That’s why careers are differently paced, as so many of them have to account for an obligatory nearly two year pause often at the height of their success.
Which brings us back to Jin, the oldest member of BTS, who shared this photo on social media a few days ago – freshly buzzed in preparation for military training:
And today he officially reported for duty, accompanied by his six bandmates, brothers, friends who came to see him off. SOB!
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I’m not kidding when I say “sob”. Because this moment made it real. This will be the last group photo of BTS, of RM, Jin, Suga, j-hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook, all together for at least two years. For those of us who’ve been comforted by their music and lyrics, by their videos, by their bond, their connection to each other and by extension to us; for those of us who have met new friends through a shared appreciation of their talents; seeing them as a seven-piece today for one final shot is the visual representation of a decade-long once-in-a-generation relationship between a band and their fans. There is sadness, of course, but there is also hope. This picture is meant to be a declaration, a promise that one day there will be a new picture to bookend this one that will kickstart another chapter.
One by one the remaining members of BTS will follow Jin. Suga, who is the oldest after Jin, is expected to report for duty next. It’s been speculated that by this time next year, all seven members of BTS will be in the military so that they can all be out by the end of 2025 at the latest. Some are even wondering whether or not it might be possible that they could reunite in June 2025, specifically June 13, 2025, which would be their 12th anniversary.
It will fly by, right? It will fly by!
Yours in gossip,