Jin from BTS wraps up military service to the strains of K-pop hit Dynamite | K-pop

Jin, the oldest member of the K-pop supergroup BTS, has completed his military service in South Korea, although their legions of fans around the world will still have to wait at least a year until all seven artists are reunited.

The star, who in December 2022 became the first member of the group to begin 18 months of military service, emerged on Wednesday from the 5th Army Infantry Division’s base in northern Yeoncheon province, 60km north of Seoul, to be greeted by fellow bandmates J-hope, RM, V, Jungkook and Jimin.

A smiling Jin saluted outside the camp gate before RM played BTS’s 2020 mega-hit Dynamite on a saxophone, then exchanged hugs with other members of the band who presented him with a giant bouquet of flowers.

While fans had been asked not to visit the camp, some had hung colourful banners outside, with one reading: “Seok-jin you did so well for the last 548 days. We’ll stand by you with our unwavering love,” referring to the star by his full first name.

All able-bodied South Korean men are required to spend between 18 and 21 months in the military by the time they are 28 – a duty intended to maintain the country’s ability to respond to a possible attack by North Korea, with which it is technically still at war.

Some fans had hoped the band – by far South Korea’s most successful cultural export – would be granted an exemption in recognition of their huge contribution to the country’s economy and soft power. Exemptions have been granted to classical musicians and athletes who won international tournaments.

But in October 2022, BTS’s management agency, Big Hit Music, confirmed that all seven artists were “moving forward with plans to fulfil their military service”.

K-pop band BTS’s member Jin, center, waves after being discharged from mandatory military service. Photograph: Im Byung-shik/AP

The band will not be able to reform until RM, Jimin, Jungkook and V – the last four members of the band to join up – are discharged from military service in June 2025.

While the two Koreas engage in a proxy war by flying balloons across their heavily armed border, a giant balloon flown outside the camp had a more benign message. “Worldwide handsome Seok-jin! Congratulations on your discharge,” it said.

County authorities joined in with a banner of their own that read: “BTS Jin, the last year and a half was a joy for us. Yeoncheon will not forget you!”

K-pop band BTS’s member Jin, front right, is greeted by other soldiers after being discharged. Photograph: Im Byung-shik/AP

The band’s agency announced Jin’s discharge on Weverse – a superfan social media platform – earlier this week. “We are excited to bring you the news of Jin’s upcoming military discharge,” it said.

It also urged fans not to visit the camp over safety concerns, and only two were seen on Wednesday morning, according to local media.

On Thursday, Jin, who is expected to release a solo album later this year, is scheduled to give out hugs to fans at the Festa event in Seoul, held to mark the 11th anniversary of the band’s debut. Later the same day he will take part in a meet-and-greet event that will be livestreamed on Weverse.

The five members who greeted Jin on Wednesday had applied for leave, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, adding that Suga, who is performing civilian duties after the effects of shoulder surgery ruled him out of military service, was the only absentee.

Agence France-Presse contributed reporting.

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