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Amid BTS’ Mandatory Military Service Saga, Here’s How South Korean Superstar Son Heung-Min Avoided the 21-Month Service

Published 03/01/2023, 9:15 AM EST

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In the last few years, almost every soccer fan has come to the consensus that Son Heung-min is the best-ever South Korean soccer player. Over the years, the Korean has created an ever-lasting legacy for himself at Tottenham Hotspur. The English Premier League giant also has quite a substantial fan following in Korea due to Son. However, there is a unique government regulation for everyone in South Korea. Everyone despite their financial and public stature must follow a regulation. In recent times, members of BTS, a popular K-pop band are also abiding by the rules.

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The rule is that ‘All able-bodied men must serve in the military for at least 18 months’. However, the authorities shockingly exempted Son Heung-min from a 21-month military service period. Find out why.


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Why was Son Heung-min exempted from military service?

Back in 2018, South Korea retained its title after it beat Japan in the final of the Asian Games soccer tournament. As a result, the South Korean government exempted Son Heung-min and all his teammates from serving their 21-month mandatory service period in their country’s military. Usually, the government does make a few exceptions like these for certain sportspersons who manage to bag a medal at the Olympics. Instead of 21 months, Son served a mere 3 weeks in the South Korean military and ranked as one the best there too.

Son captained South Korea’s soccer team for this U23 competition. He was one of the overaged players who played in the competition. He led his national side to win yet another major accolade. Without a doubt, Son Heung-min has raised the standard of South Korean soccer as a whole.


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He’s been in scintillating form in the last few seasons. At the age of 30, Son is still leading the attacking line of Tottenham Hotspur along with Harry Kane. The South Korean soccer star is a true example of the quote ‘aging of fine wine’. Even at the age of 30, Son is much more athletic and agile than many of the younger soccer stars around him.

Speaking of military service, the second member of the K-pop boy band, BTS will serve his period in the military in the coming months.

BTS’ J-Hope to follow Jin into military service


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BTS has become one of the most popular music bands across the globe. The Korean boyband has garnered millions of fans from different corners of the world. A few days ago, BTS announced that J-Hope will be enlisting himself in the South Korean military soon. J-Hope becomes the second member after Jin from the band who will be enlisting himself for the mandatory service period.

via Imago

As of last month, Jin, who is also the oldest member of the band completed his basic training period at the army camp. As per the South Korean army listing, Jin is one of the 560,000 new additions to the army. The fans are expecting all the members of the boyband to register for the military one after the other. As per the timelines, the fans are expecting BTS to fully get back together as a group in 2025.


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What do you think about the Korean authorities’ decision to exempt Son and his soccer teammates from mandatory military service? Let us know in the comments below.

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Written by:

Daniel D'Cruz


One take at a time

Daniel D'Cruz is a Sports Writer at EssentiallySports. Having earned his Bachelor's Degree in Mass Media and a Post Graduate Diploma in Event Planning and Experiential Marketing from St. Xavier's College, Daniel went on to have a brief stint working in the Event Industry.
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Edited by:

Amal Joyce