Music’s biggest night is here! The 66th Grammys are underway, with veterans scooping awards and fresh faces gracing the stage. However, amidst the excitement, a sense of déjà vu arises as certain X (Twitter) trends and familiar patterns repeat, mirroring how BTS, the K-pop titans, were denied Grammy glory despite nominations and immense global success. Their devoted fans, the ARMY, are understandably disappointed, especially considering their record-breaking 2023 releases. While predictable, the snub leaves a bittersweet taste amidst the Grammys’ fanfare.
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BTS’ Grammy snub and military exemption
BTS faced Grammy nominations twice, experiencing snubs on both occasions. Currently, with members serving in the military and the group on a temporary hiatus, questions arise about whether a Grammy win could have potentially exempted them from mandatory service.
In 2022, as BTS took the stage at the annual music show, a viral tweet captured the members expressing their desire to win. This sparked speculation about whether they were subtly hinting at something significant. While nothing concrete emerged, numerous K-netizens pointed out certain exemptions in South Korea’s military enrollment criteria, noting that some artists have been granted exemptions in the past based on significant milestone wins.
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As per the Korea Herald, “Under the current law, all able-bodied South Korean men are obliged to serve in the military for a period of around two years. The South Korean conscription law allows exemptions for international award- or medal-winning athletes and classical musicians, and calls have been growing among BTS fans that such exemption should be applied to a wider range of artists.”
Those who were exempted
In South Korea, where military service is mandatory for most men, a rare few can dodge duty through exceptional achievements. Reportedly few individuals who were able to do this were: Pianist Cho Seong Jjin avoided service after winning the prestigious International Piano Competition in 2009. Similarly, footballer Son Heung Min and his teammates were exempted after leading South Korea to gold in the Asian Games against Japan.
Several other possibilities for exemptions exist, such as victories at the Asian Games or receiving major government awards. It’s worth noting that, to date, no Korean pop star has been excused from military duty solely for their notable achievements in the entertainment industry.
Turning our attention to the Grammys, the awards hold special importance in Asian countries as only a handful get a chance to attend or get nominated. In 2022, the ceremony saw record viewership, thanks to the massive fandom of K-pop superstars. However, there is no rulebook that mentions any exemption after winning this particular award. The law was indeed modified a bit, given that the seven-member boy band holds enormous significance in music and cultural terms. However, in the end, all the members, including Jin, Jimin, Jungkook, Suga, V, RM, and J-Hope, mutually showed determination to serve their country.