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Wednesday, July 17, 2024  
10 Muharram 1446  

BTS star Jin finishes South Korean military service

Fans had hung colourful banners outside the base
Photo via AFP
Photo via AFP

K-pop megastar Jin from BTS was discharged from his South Korean military service Wednesday and feted by bandmates who hugged him, with RM belting out one of their hits on the saxophone to celebrate.

The seven members of the world’s most popular boy band have all been performing their service – which South Korea requires of all men under 30, due to tensions with the nuclear-armed North – with the K-pop juggernaut on a self-described “hiatus” since 2022.

Jin, the oldest in the band and the first to enlist, emerged from the gates of his army base in South Korea’s northern Yeoncheon county early Wednesday, where he was met by bandmates J-hope, V, RM, Jungkook and Jimin.

The bandmates, who have reportedly taken leave from duties to mark the day, presented a beaming Jin, still in his military uniform, with a giant bouquet of flowers, as they all hugged while RM played the saxophone, blasting out the hook of BTS’s mega-hit “Dynamite”. Fans had hung colourful banners outside the base, with one reading: “Seok-jin you did so well for the last 548 days. We’ll stand by you with our unwavering love,” referring to the star by his full first name.

A giant balloon flew in front with the message: “Worldwide handsome Seok-jin! Congratulations on your discharge.”

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Yeoncheon county put up its own banner that read: “BTS Jin, The last year and a half was a joy for us. Yeoncheon will not forget you!”

Fans had been urged not to attend, and there were only a couple of admirers present early Wednesday outside the base.

“Although my hands were shaking and my muscles stiffened, I was so happy to see him,” said Natose Sunagawa, a 19-year-old from Tokyo.

Holding a plush doll of Jin, and with a keyring of Jin’s face on her purse, she said she came because she “wanted to meet him so bad.”

“As all BTS members haven’t finished their military service, I believe Jin will release solo materials I wish to buy his solo albums and go to the concerts,” said Sunagawa, wiping away her tears.

‘Huggathon’ BTS’s agency HYBE had announced Jin’s discharge on Weverse – a superfan social media platform – earlier this week.

His release comes just ahead of the 11th anniversary of the group’s debut, with HYBE’s office in Seoul plus some local cafes decked out in purple decorations to mark the occasion.

Jin will participate in a “huggathon” on Thursday, where he will hug 1,000 fans who won a raffle held on Weverse, before giving his first performance in two years.

“It is significant that Jin did his military service without any problem, since for a K-pop male idol serving in the military is the biggest issue,” for their career, said Yoo Sung-man, an analyst at Leading Investment and Securities.

“Jin’s discharge is a positive sign for entertainment stock prices,” he added.

“K-pop female idols have been performing well but there has been an absence for mass male idols.”

HYBE stock price has been hit by a dispute with superproducer Min Hee-jin, the mastermind behind girlband NewJeans.

“Once Jin resumes his solo performances it will definitely lead to an increase (in stock price),” Yoo told AFP.

HYBE’s share price was up two percent in early trading Wednesday.

The next BTS member to finish will be J-hope, who will be discharged in October. The rest of the band will complete their service in June 2025.

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