On May 29, 2018, an amendment was made to the South Korean Military Service Law. Under this new amendment, any South Korean male who is 28 or older cannot delay their enlistment for any reason.
Although, anyone who has a medical problem may postpone their enlistment.
Additionally, males who are 25 to 27 years-old must receive permission to travel outside of the country. Each male between these ages can only obtain 5 of these foreign travel permits and each permit allows up to 6 months of overseas travel.
The total length of the 5 permits cannot exceed 24 months.
These new laws mean that a lot of things will likely change in the music and entertainment industry.
For starters, within the next few years, we will likely see a number of idols entering the military that may have waited a little longer.
But it isn’t just those idols who are approaching 28 that will be affected by the law. Groups like BTS, EXO, and GOT7 will also soon feel the effects of the travel restrictions.
Since each group has members who are already 25 or will be turning 25 within the next year, they will be unable to travel as freely as before.
So what does this really mean for these groups? Firstly, groups will likely choose their overseas activities much more carefully and may avoid any kind of activity that would have them stay in one location for only a couple of days before going back to South Korea.
Or we may even see those idols who are affected by the law to sit out on some activities so that they wouldn’t waste their travel opportunities.
We may also see groups station themselves overseas or spend longer times abroad. Since many groups already have a pretty strong international fan base, like BTS does, they could spend the majority of their time further strengthening their foreign fanbase.
There is a provision in the law that affects workers who are employed by overseas companies (or are stationed abroad at overseas branches of Korean companies) that some believe the entertainment industry may use as a loophole. These employees are exempt from travel restrictions and there are those who believe we may see idols being handed off to an overseas branch of their entertainment company so that they will be unaffected by the law.
In the end, it is difficult to say how this law will end up changing the industry, and we’ll have to wait and see how idols like Jin and Suga (who are both now 26 and affected by these travel restrictions) deal with the new law.