SEOUL, Sept. 4 (UPI) -- Fans have called for military duty exemption for South Korean boy band BTS, citing their contribution to enhancing the national image abroad.
Fans have filed online petitions to demand that the government should revise the current military service act to have BTS benefit from the exemption rule, as Olympic gold medalists do.
Such requests have been raised as the government will allow 42 South Korean athletes, who won gold medals at the Asian Games, to be exempt from the mandatory military service. Under the law, Olympic gold medalists and winners of classical music and dance contests are granted exemptions from military service.
All able-bodied South Korean men between the ages of 18 and 35 should serve in the military from 18 months to 22 months, depending on services.
Fans have questioned whether ranking top on Billboard charts twice would equal winning gold medals at global sports events.
"Wouldn't winning top positions in not only sports but also science, music, art, engineering and academia all qualify young adults for the military exemption rule? I raise a question over the current military service law that only grants athletes military exemption," wrote a petitioner to the presidential office online.
"BTS is also on the forefront in promoting the national image abroad. Shouldn't they be qualified for the military duty exemption?" the petitioner said.
BTS topped the Billboard 200 albums chart with "Love Yourself: Answer" on Monday. The group also ranked atop on the chart with their "Love Yourself: Tear" in May.
The Office of President Moon Jae-in tweeted, "Huge congratulations to BTS on topping the billboard 200 for the second time!"
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon also congratulated BTS.
A lawmaker also raised the issue in July.
Ha Tae-kyung of the minor opposition Bareun Mirae Party said the current military service exemption law is too outdated to reflect contemporary Korean society, according to Aju News.
"It has a problem with its fairness. Winning at classical music contests is entitled to military exemption, but not ranking top on Billboard charts," Ha said.