Sept. 3 (UPI) -- Members of South Korean boy band BTS should be able to postpone their military service for their exceptional achievements in the arts, a Seoul lawmaker says.
Jeon Yong-gi, a lawmaker with the ruling Democratic Party, said Thursday he is proposing a bill that would open a path toward military service postponement for outstanding artists who elevate South Korea's profile on the world stage, Yonhap and Seoul Shinmun reported.
Jeon is proposing an amendment to South Korea's Military Service Act, which requires all men between ages 18 and 28 to join the armed services as conscripts. Draft evasion is considered a crime.
The lawmaker's statement comes after South Korea's minister of culture, sports and tourism said BTS members RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V and Jungkook have "raised the nation's status and dignity" for their contributions to popular culture. On Tuesday, BTS's latest single "Dynamite" made a historic No.1 debut on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
On Thursday, Jeon said the postponement could also include a clause that can reverse special treatment for artists who do not live up to the nation's expectations with "acts that impair the national dignity."
"Deferring military service is a completely different issue from exemptions or special cases," Jeon said. "We need to give the option to postpone military service, so twentysomethings can flourish in new kinds of careers."
Praise for BTS has come from the highest levels of the South Korean government.
South Korean lawmaker Lee Nak-yon, a potential contender for the presidency in 2022, said BTS' "Dynamite" demonstrated the power to "blow away the gloom" of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Big Hit Entertainment, the label that manages BTS, is expected to make an initial public offering. It has an expected market capitalization of $2.5 billion.