SEOUL, Aug. 2 (Yonhap) -- Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup has said there could be a way to allow members of K-pop supergroup BTS to perform overseas while carrying out their mandatory military service.
Lee made the remark during a parliamentary defense committee meeting Monday, saying the issue can be handled without breaching the principle of "fairness and equity."
"I believe there is a way to give BTS an opportunity to continue to perform for the benefit of national interest," Lee said. "If they join the military, I believe there will be a way to allow them to practice and join overseas performances."
The commissioner of the Military Manpower Administration (MMA), Lee Ki-sik, also told the National Assembly the agency is reviewing different options of alternative military service to help the septet continue its activities even after enlistment.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are required to serve in the military for about two years by law, but Olympic medalists and international award-winning classical musicians can be exempt from the conscription in recognition of their roles in elevating the country's reputation overseas.
With the success of BTS, some people have argued that pop artists' achievements, such as winning Billboard or Grammy Awards, should also be equally recognized as feats made by sports stars and classical musicians.
Over the past few years, bills have been proposed to revise the military service act to grant exemptions to prominent pop celebrities, but none has yet to pass the assembly.