BTS Fans Triggered After South Korean E-Sports Star Lee Sang-hyeok Could Avoid NS Altogether

Military exemption has been a big issue throughout history, including South Korea where males between 18 and 35 must serve in the military.

However, if you are a high-profile athlete, you can qualify for an exemption from military service.

In 2020, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense confirmed that e-sport athletes will get to enjoy this perk too.

“According to Article 68-11(1)(5) of the Military Service Act Enforcement Decree, individuals who achieve first place in the Asian Games can be included as artistic and athletic personnel.

“Therefore, if a professional gamer wins first place in an official e-sports event, they can be included as artistic and athletic personnel.”

Cue the controversy.

BTS Fans Triggered After South Korean E-Sports Star Lee Sang-hyeok Could Avoid NS Altogether

Lee Sang-hyeok, the pro player “Faker” in League of Legends (LoL), is one of the 15 players representing South Korea in the 19th Asian Games taking place at Hangzhou, China.

The team is competing for seven different e-sport titles at the Games, which began on 23 Sep 2023.

Should the players clinch gold medals, they’ll be exempted from the 18-21-month compulsory military service.

In particular, the South Korean e-sports team performed impressively for LoL matches. They are set to play Saudi Arabia in the quarter-finals on Wednesday morning and the LoL finals will be held on Friday night.

This news was not well-received by BTS fans, who felt that the members of the mega-pop group BTS also deserved military exemptions.

This eventually led to a clash between BTS fans and Lee Sang-hyeok’s fans.

Faker vs BTS

On 25 Sep 2023, a tweet by user @itto_inho claimed that Faker (Lee Sang-hyeok) has done more for South Korea than BTS.

The tweet was seen more than 2.3 million times, was retweeted 1,838 times, had 477 comments and 2,199 likes as of the time of writing.

Numerous BTS fans flooded the tweet, criticising the original poster for his actions.

A few took to the thread to educate non-fans about what BTS has done for South Korea:

Others said Faker’s popularity was restricted to the gaming community while BTS’s fame extends beyond the music community.

Some fans, however, felt the dispute was unneeded, especially since both Faker and BTS seemed to have a good relationship.

Consideration For BTS Members Military Exemptions

South Korean lawmakers had reportedly considered granting BTS group members exemptions from mandatory military service.

This is so that they can continue performing.

In 2022, however, BTS’s agency Hybe said all the BTS members planned to complete their military duty by 2025.

Three out of the seven BTS members are currently serving in the military.

In a 2019 revision to the law, globally recognised K-pop stars are allowed to delay their mandatory military service to age 30 instead of 28.