With the Enlistment Rush in K-pop Industry, Will There Be a Generational Shift?

Credit: iMBC, Cine Pilwoon, SM Entertainment

Soon, most of the boy members born in 1992 and 1993 will go on their military hiatus. As these boys have dominated the industry for some time, what effects will their absence bring?

Under the current military law, those who reached 28 cannot postpone their enlistment unless they have a special reason. One can postpone his enlistment after 28 if he enters graduate school, but most guys need to fulfill their military duty by December of the year they turn 28.

There is also a “delay of enlistment period” system, which delays enlistment up to five times and up to two years. But this procedure is quite tricky, so most men enlist in the army by 28. And this is why idols who are born in 1992 (who turned 28 this year) have no choice but to join the military one after another.

Several singers have already started military service this year. Besides Pentagon’s Hui, who enlisted on February 18th and now is working as a social service worker, Infinite’s L has also joined the marine corps in the same month. EXO’s Chanyeol joined the army in March, and Baekhyun became the 6th EXO member to enlist on May 6th. Baekhyun will serve as a social service agent after completing basing military training. On May 31st, SHINee’s Taemin will start his service. Taemin, who was born in 1993, was recently accepted into the military band. His enlistment will be conducted as a closed event.

Credit: SM Entertainment, Big Hit Entertainment, Starship Entertainment, YG Entertainment

There is a list of stars who are just around the corner from their enlistment. WINNER’s Minho (born in 1993), Block B’s P.O (1993), MONSTA X’s Shownu (1992), BTS’s Jin (1992) are on this list. However, the Military Manpower Administration (MMA) recently passed a bill that allows cultural artists and e-sports players who have enhanced national prestige to delay their enlistment until the age of 30. So in the case of Jin, he will have some time before finalizing the date.

Now, there is a slew of stars who are nearing their enlistment dates. The attention is focusing on the changes that their absence will bring to the K-pop scene. Besides EXO, Infinite, and SHINee members who are already have served or been serving in the army, WINNER and MONSTA X members have been ruling the industry as the top boy groups.

Who will be the next group to take the baton of those who recently bid short farewell to their fans and the public. The first thing to notice is the “4th generation” or “MZ generation” rookie K-pop groups.

Expectations are also high for “long-standing groups” who have completed their military duty. Super Junior and Highlight have recently made a triumphant return, and 2PM is also gearing up for their comeback. Also, BTOB’s Yook Sungjae and Im Hyunsik will be discharged later this year.


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Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.

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