With MONSTA X’s Joohoney enlisted, what K-Pop bands have been affected by mandatory military service?
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It could be a record label’s worst nightmare; a talented group making their mark in their respective genre, only for one member to have to depart due to reasons outside of their control. But over in South Korea, labels have had to adjust to K-Pop fandom and mandatory military service; just as BTS fans eagerly countdown to Jin’s release..
MONSTA X’s Joohoney is the latest K-Pop star to undertake mandatory military service, with the singer set to spend 18 to 21 months, as is compulsory for physically fit men aged between 18 and 35. Which, given the ages of a number of popular K-Pop bands, has long been a problem for the likes of SM Entertainment et al. Joohoney in fact becomes the third member of MONSTA X to enter service, following on from Shownu and Minhyuk.
But it becomes part and parcel of being a K-Pop fan it would seem, with MONSTA X not the first and given the K-Wave occurring across Western audiences and pop culture, won’t be the last either. So how do the bands, the labels and the fans deal with the absence of a member?
If you’re a member of BTS, starting a solo career seems to be the natural path to take while waiting for the entire unit to come together once again. With success also, as the biggest K-Pop band on the planet has spawned two very successful solo careers in the west. Jimin led by example, becoming the first K-Soloist to enter the UK Single chart earlier this year with “Like Crazy” entering the chart at number 8.
That has since been topped over the past week as Jungkook, who you may have heard performing on BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge or seen perform his single, “Seven,” on BBC One’s “The One Show” on Friday, entering the UK single chart at number 3 - the highest ever position for a solo K-Pop artist to reach
Absence, it would seem, makes the K-Pop heart fonder though and rather wash their hands of an act that is currently “on hiatus”, fans of the genre often show support and understanding for the members' patriotic duty to serve their country. Fan clubs organise special events (see: BTS FESTA 2023), create projects, and send letters to show their love and encouragement during this period.
Of course, the record labels of the affected groups plan strategic releases of solo or sub-unit projects to maintain interest and engagement with fans while the enlisted members complete their military service. Hence why within the realm of NCT Dream, you have sub-groups such as NCT having NCT 127, Dream and WayV after Taeil’s enlisting, or EXO-CBX as another example.
What K-Pop bands are currently affected by mandatory military service?
As of late July 2023, the following bands have been confirmed to have members undertaking their mandatory military service in South Korea and their expected release dates from service (credit to K-Archives for the information):
- A.C.E: Jun
- KNK: Jeong Inseong
- B1A4: SANDEUL
- KNK: Jeong Inseong
- Golden Child: Lee Daeyeol
- SF9: Youngbin
- Block B: P.O
- A.C.E: Kim Byeognkwan
- ASTRO: MJ
- Day6: WONPIL
ONEWE: Yonghoon, Kanghyun
N.Flying: Cha Hun
VICTON: Kang Seungsik
Golden Child: Y
MONSTA X: MINHYUK
N.Flying: Seo Dongsung
VICTON: Lim Sejun
WINNER: Kang Seungyoon, MINO
MONSTA X: Joohoney