Those deep into K-Pop fandom know that South Korea has a mandatory, two-year military enlistment for all its male citizens. K-Pop stars (Idols) are not exempt from the rule and often have to press pause on their illustrious careers to serve their country. It’s extremely challenging to bypass the required service time, one instituted following the Korean War (and if you do, you risk jail time) but there are ways to avoid or delay it, mostly boiling down to avoiding the enlistment because of living/traveling overseas, or holding a critical job/position that inhibits you from service, or attending school while of enlistment age. Big Bang’s G-Dragon and Taeyang will soon be expected to enlist—even while the boy band continues to tour internationally and rank in massive streaming numbers here and abroad. (They’ve entered the Billboard 200 multiple times, once an impossible goal for K-Pop groups. G-Dragon, leader of Big Bang, has done it as a solo artist, too. Their reach far exceeds Korea.)
In a statement to AllKPop, the massively popular K-Pop music site, YG Entertainment, Big Bang’s management company and one of the largest K-Pop media conglomerates, gave the following statement: “G-Dragon and Taeyang are currently waiting on the draft notices for their active-duty military service.” This is surprising to V.I.P.s (Big Bang’s fanbase name) because rumors surrounding their service time have been swirling around the ‘net for a while now—many assuming G-Dragon applied for his doctorate to avoid enlistment. (This has yet to be confirmed, and is insane to think about.)
Whatever happens, it can be assumed that these guys will have to serve at some point soon (because, once again, it’s mandatory.) If you’re reading this from a country that does not have any sort of mandatory service, it’s pretty shocking. And with good reason: If the U.S., or the U.K., or Canada, or wherever, had a draft, our pop stars would be in the same situation. (It wasn’t that long ago that OG rockstars Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley served, or Bruce Springsteen and the Doors’ Jim Morrison dodged the draft.) Honestly, it’s impossible to think of Justin Bieber or Ed Sheeran in this situation, but it’s the reality for K-Pop stars, and Big Bang is next.
We’ve reached out to YG for further comment and will update this if we hear back.