Amid the flash and flair of K-pop, it's easy to forget that the genre plays a key role in South Korea's ongoing conflict with North Korea. But fans of the boy band 2PM will feel the brunt of that conflict in the near future when the group's members join the South Korean army and put their career on hold for a bit.
On Monday, the eight-year-old 2PM released their sixth album, Gentleman's Game, along with the lead single "Promise (I'll Be)." The same day, member Ok Taecyeon revealed that it was going to be the group's last release before the men start enlisting to fulfill South Korea's mandatory draft.
"Comeback!" tweeted the singer, who co-wrote the title track. "It's our last promotion before military service. Enjoy!"
2PM, 1년 3개월만의 컴백 그 유쾌한 신고식(종합) (출처 : 헤럴드POP | 네이버 TV연예) https://t.co/nwkNh9IjRC
컴백! 군대전 마지막 활동이다! 즐기자! 누가 머라든ㅋㅋㅋ- taec yeon ok (@taeccool) September 12, 2016
Ok, who emigrated to Massachusetts from South Korea before returning to pursue a career as a singer and actor, wrote "Promise (I'll Be)" with frequent 2PM collaborator Raphael and singer/songwriter Lesley Chiang. The single, an R&B synth hybrid that incorporates a piano melody and pulsating beat, stays within the realm of what 2PM's members have been releasing over the past few years.
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All South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 are required to serve a period of around two years in the Korean military. 2PM's members range from eldest Jun.K at 28 to the youngest member, Chansung, who turned 26 earlier this year, leaving a bit of leeway for the member's enlistment period. Ok's tweet was unclear regarding whether he meant all the members would be serving in the near future or was talking about his own impending enlistment, but it is clear that the group will be unable to release any new music until at least 2018. Billboard has reached out to 2PM's agency, JYP Entertainment, for further clarification.
Last year, Korean news sources reported that 2PM renewed their contracts with JYP Entertainment until 2018, which will likely overlap with the members fulfilling their military service and affect the group's future. Since military service necessitates a hiatus, celebrities typically enlist later in life than the average Korean populace to capitalize on their popularity. While groups like Super Junior have rotated members in and out of the army to remain active, 2PM and K-pop behemoth BIGBANG are expected to go on hiatus in the next year or so as members begin their enlistments.
Gentleman's Game was released a week after the group celebrated its eighth anniversary. At the time of their debut, 2PM became known for their acrobatic performances and beastly physiques. Over the years, the group has matured their style, and several members have partaken in producing 2PM's suave electro-R&B style. "Promise (I'll Be)" is one of four tracks Ok co-wrote on Gentleman's Game, along with "Perfume," "Make Love" and "Can't Stop Feeling." The latter two were co-written with member Chansung, who also co-wrote the track "Uneasy." "Giv u Class" and "Humming" were both written by Wooyoung.