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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on June 21)

Editorials from Korean dailies 07:01 June 21, 2022

BTS hiatus for future
It's time to rethink 'exhausting' K-pop model

K-pop superstar group BTS sent shock waves through fans and news media last week by announcing they will take a break from group activities to pursue solo projects, pleading exhaustion. But the seven-member boy band denied rumors of disbandment, saying the members will continue releasing their own solo albums.

Leader and rapper RM, in a tearful video released last Tuesday, said after BTS' last few singles he "didn't know what kind of group we were anymore," adding later that the band's members were "exhausted." Singer Jimin said, "We're trying to find our identity and that's an exhausting and long process." Given that the members have worked excessively over the last nine years after their debut, their plea for rest is quite natural.

BTS' time-out is also attributed to the fact that the members face mandatory military service one after another starting this year. Jin, the group's oldest member, is due to begin serving in the Army late this year. The National Assembly is discussing a revision to the Military Service Act to allow exemptions for people who contribute a great deal to the nation's international standing. The legislature should not postpone its decision any longer.

The abrupt activity suspension of BTS, the first Asian band to win the Artist of the Year prize at the American Music Awards last year, might serve as an occasion to rethink the K-pop model, as illustrated by RM's remark that "the problem with K-pop and the whole idol system is that they don't give you time to mature." In fact, BTS is no exception to the chronic ills of the K-pop idol system, which maximizes the profits of management agencies.

BTS' decision to take some time off is well-received by fans who wish them a well-deserved break to recharge their batteries for another chapter. Certainly, BTS should be active for a long time. That's why many problems related to how K-pop idol singers are nurtured must be addressed this time, before it's too late.

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