For those of you that are reading this, I love KPop. More than that, I specifically love EXO, and even more than THAT, I love Xiumin. He's my ultimate bias in the entire world of KPop, which is why I'm very heartbroken right now.
In South Korea, all able-bodied men are obligated to serve two years in the military. It used to be that they had to enlist no later than at the age of 30, but this past year, the law was changed to the age of 28.
This greatly affects lots of idols in the KPop world, particularly the ones that have already turned 28 (or will turn 28 by the end of this year), such as SHINee's Onew, BIGBANG's Seungri, and EXO's Xiumin. This means that these idols have to enlist in the military by the end of this year, and since it's already December, it really means the end of this month.
The compulsory military service isn't anything new, but this sudden decrease in the age maximum has hit lots of fans very hard, as it means their favorite idols will have to enlist sooner than they might've originally thought. This greatly damages the groups that these idols are a part of, as the group won't be fully together again until all of the member's complete their service. Xiumin is the oldest member of EXO, so he's just starting the chain of enlistments that will follow over the next several years.
If the other members of EXO put off their enlistments as long as possible, the youngest member, Sehun, will be enlisting in 2022. Assuming that is what ends up happening, EXO won't be the complete group until 2024, a six-year gap that could really hurt their relationship with their fans.
Of course, I love all of the members of EXO and will continue to support them even when my favorite member isn't a part of the new music that they'll be releasing. However, there are likely going to be a lot of fans who jump ship when their favorite member has to step away.
The Supreme Court of South Korea did rule last month that conscientious objection was a valid reason for refusing to serve in the military, and it also sounds like South Korea is trying to come up with an alternative for serving in the military, such as community service.
While I understand the reasoning behind having them serve compulsory military service, I don't agree with it. They shouldn't be forced to serve, especially if they don't want to. And this doesn't just affect KPop fans. Earlier this year soccer fans were begging the President of South Korea to give exemptions from the military service to their favorite players. The soccer players did receive an exemption, but only because they won gold in the Asian Games soccer tournament. All athletes who win gold at the Asian games of any color medal at the Olympics are exempt from military service. While this great for them, it also isn't very fair to the KPop idols, who also bring in a lot of income and attention to South Korea. Hopefully, in the future, South Korea is able to get rid of their compulsory military service and their men are not forced to serve.
Even though it hasn't even been officially confirmed that Xiumin will enlist by the end of this month, that is currently what it looks like will happen, so I'm just going to listen to the albums I have with him on them and appreciate the new music until he comes back.