Jung Ho-seok, better known as J-Hope, Tuesday became the second member of K-pop sensation BTS to join the Korean military.
Approaching his 30th birthday, J-Hope attended an army camp at Wongju, south of Seoul, and is expected to begin five weeks of basic training there. Local news agencies reported a small crowd of fans, seemingly outnumbered by assembled journalists, waited outside the camp to wish him well. Their number was reported to be diminished by bad weather.
Earlier, J-Hope had posted on the Weverse fandom platform words of encouragement and a pair of photos revealing his newly-shorn hair. “I love you all. ARMY, I will return safely,” he wrote. ‘Army’ in that sense is a reference to BTS’s legion of fans, rather than the Korean military services.
All able-bodied men in Korea are required to fulfil some two years of compulsory military service and start before they turn 30. Exceptions exist in the case of athletes and some classical musicians, but these are controversial and have not been extended to K-pop stars.
J-Hope had reportedly sought a postponement, but in February it was confirmed that his application had been withdrawn.
The oldest BTS member Jin shifted into uniform in December last year, effectively beginning a hiatus for the seven-member group that could last until 2025.
Even before that, several of the BTS band members had embarked on solo projects, J-Hope was among the first. He released a debut solo album, “Jack in the Box,” in 2022 which received an accompanying music documentary that detailed the album’s creation process and also showed J-Hope preparing for his Lollapalooza concert in August.
Last month music label Big Hit Music released a new J-Hope music video and single titled “on the street.” The track was described as a lo-fi hip-hop track with a “hopeful message” and an “easy-listening melody and warm-hearted lyrics,” partially written by J-Hope.