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BTS, the Iconic K-Pop Boy Band, Will Go On Hiatus to Serve in South Korea's Military, Possibly Causing the Country to Lose Out On Billions The group helped bring K-Pop to the world with hits like "Dynamite" and "Boy With Luv." Despite having previously secured a delay, they still aren't getting out of a country-wide requirement.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Kevin Winter I Getty Images
BTS at the American Music Awards in 2021.

The band is not exactly getting back together — it's headed to do mandatory military service.

BTS, the high-flying Korean boy band with six No. 1. Billboard hits, is going on a three-year break for mandatory military service, the group's label announced on Monday. But there are questions about how the break might affect the country's economy.

The economic impact of the group is undeniable. The Hyundai Research Institute estimated that, on top of bringing in over $3.6 billion, the group accounted for 1 out of every 13 tourists that come to South Korea from another country in 2017.

Further, the band could have generated about $29 billion from 2014 to 2023 if they stayed as popular, the institute said.

The band currently brings in upwards of $3.6 billion into the country each year between tourism and shopping, according to Insider.

"BIGHIT MUSIC name is proud to announce today that members of BTS are currently moving forward with plans to fulfill their military service," the label wrote in a screenshot of a statement posted to Instagram.

The group will use the military service hiatus to help support their solo music projects, the label added.

BTS has seven members and began working publicly in 2013. Since then, it has produced chart-topping albums in the U.S. and enormous value for its home country. "By some estimates, the BTS ecosystem accounts for a staggering $4.9 billion of South Korea's GDP," according to a case study from Harvard Business Review.

South Korea's GDP in 2020 was about $1.64 trillion. That means one boy band helped produce some 0.30% percent of the country's economic output.

In 2020, the country's parliament actually changed a law to give the band a delay in military service by adding pop stars to the limited group previously allowed to request deferrals (classical musicians and top athletes).

The label added that this was the "perfect time" because it would allow members to pursue their individual projects, such as Jin, whose solo album comes out at the end of October.

But BTS isn't over forever.

"Both the company and the members of BTS are looking forward to reconvening as a group again around 2025 following their service commitment," the label added.

Like Israel and Switzerland (the requirement is only 21 weeks in the latter) South Korea has a mandatory military service requirement. Physically able men in South Korea have to complete at least two years of service in one branch of the country's defense forces.

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

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