In South Korea, all able-bodied men must serve in the army, navy or air force for 18-21 months under a conscription system established due to threats from rival North Korea. Individuals with physical and mental issues can instead carry out their duties at non-military facilities such as welfare centers, community service centers and post offices for 21 months.
Local media reported Suga’s alternative service was likely related to a shoulder surgery that he underwent in 2020.
Active duty soldiers are required to begin their service with five weeks of basic military training at boot camps. Those performing alternative service are subject to three weeks of basic military training and can choose when to take it, according to the Military Manpower Administration.
It wasn’t known in which facility Suga began serving. In a statement earlier this week, BTS’s management agency, Bit Hit Music, asked Suga fans to refrain from visiting the signer at his workplace during the period of his service.
“Please convey your warm regards and encouragement in your hearts only,” Big Hit Music said. “We ask for your continued love and support for (Suga) until he completes his service and returns.”
South Korean law grants exemptions to athletes, classical and traditional musicians, and ballet and other dancers, if they are deemed to have enhanced the country’s prestige. K-pop singers aren’t eligible for the special dispensation.