BTS’ Suga Begins Mandatory Service in South Korea, But He Won’t Be Joining the Military

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'The Devil's Deal' VIP Screening - Credit: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images
'The Devil's Deal' VIP Screening - Credit: Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images

BTS’ Suga officially started fulfilling his mandatory service requirements in South Korea today, Sept. 22, The Associated Press reports. Though, as it’s been previously noted, instead of enlisting in a branch of the country’s military, Suga will instead spend the next 21 months working as a social service agent.

Social service jobs in South Korea are a kind of compulsory employment set up as an alternative to military conscription, especially for those with physical or mental health issues (though they still have to complete three weeks of basic military training at some point). It was first reported in late 2022 that Suga would fulfill his service requirements this way, likely because he underwent shoulder surgery in 2020.

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In a message shared with fans on Weverse, Suga said, “I was able to come this far thanks to you. And the time has come. I will faithfully complete my duty and come back. Be careful of the chilly autumn weather. Stay healthy and see you all in 2025!”

It’s unclear what job Suga will perform, though social service personnel often work in welfare centers, community service centers, or post offices. In a statement shared earlier this week, BTS’ management company/label Big Hit kindly implored fans to “refrain from visiting Suga at his workplace during the period of his service.” They added: “Please convey your warm regards and encouragement in your hearts only.”

Suga is now the third member of BTS to begin his mandatory service, following Jin and J-Hope. As it stands, all seven group members will complete their service requirements over the next couple of years, with the group’s hiatus expected to last through 2025.

Like the other members of BTS, Suga had largely been busy with solo projects since the group first announced its hiatus in 2022. The rapper/producer/songwriter had already released a pair of solo mixtapes under his alter ego, Agust D, in 2016 and 2020. This past April, he officially released his debut solo album, D-Day.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Suga spoke about how he came to latch onto the album’s key theme of “liberation.” “In the past, I knew what that theme meant, and I figured out my thoughts were already resolved in the process of recording it,” he said. “There was this K-drama called My Liberation Notes [from 2022] that did really well. I had started working on the album three years ago — and then I noticed that it really matched thematically with the drama. I felt and hoped that people were looking for more stories, more discussion on this topic of ‘liberation.’”

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