Before exploring this debate, it is important to clarify that a man or a woman’s military enlistment is, of course, a very personal matter. It is very easy for me as a British female to suggest when is and when is not a good time to enlist when I am not obligated to partake in military enlistment myself.

Conscription requires a lot of mental preparation and, as with any decision; there are many questions to be considered by the individual. For example: is now a good time for me to enlist? Are my family and close friends in a good place to be without me right now? Is there anything else I could be doing at this point in my life that is more beneficial for me at this time?

Presumably every person reading this will know that compulsory national service still takes place in South Korea, and every able-bodied Korean male is expected to complete around 24 months (depending upon what branch of the military they are within) in the military when they are between the ages of 18-35. Indeed, K-Pop idols and Korean celebrities in general are also expected to fulfil this duty, and a person’s participation in the military is often strongly linked with their sense of honour and – in this case – masculinity. They are often expected to put the other areas of their life on hold during this time, with minimal participation in anything else, including social media websites.

With all this being considered, I have been thinking about how male K-Pop idols go about their enlistments. The suspension of their career means that group members will slip into a hiatus, while the rest of the active members continue working. When you have bigger groups (like Super Junior for example) it means that there is an extended period of time in which there are not all active members participating in the group’s activities. For fans, this can be slightly upsetting – as you are celebrating the return of one member, another is planning his departure. Also, when you consider the comments that the Super Junior members made about Shindong’s imminent leave for the military, one can see how painful it is for the members to carry on without their fellow members.

So, here is the argument, would it be better for idol groups to enlist at the same time? If the members (providing that they were all aged 18 and over) all commenced their national service at once, it would mean that, after maximum of a 24 month break, every member could return to their work as a group.

However, there are some pluses to attending the military separately. Some groups use this time to allow the remaining active members to participate in solo activities or in other areas of their career. The fact that an entire group would enlist at the same time might also elicit more media attention than desired, especially for a period that the idols should be keeping a low profile. Another obvious downside would be that the entire group would be on hiatus for that entire period of time.

Personally, I am more for the group members all enlisting together in order to minimise group disruption, but what do you think?

Please share your thoughts and opinions on this topic with us!



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I love writing (especially about K-Pop) and am trying to improve my skills with every post!