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BTS’ Potential Military Exemption Sparks Debate Over Mandatory Service for Stars

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  • BTS’ record label Big Hit Entertainment said no member of the K-pop boy band will enlist in the South Korean military this year.
  • Enlisting by the age of 28 is a mandatory requirement for South Korean men. The band’s oldest member, Jin, will near that requirement when he turns 27 in December.
  • South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination has urged the government to reconsider issuing BTS members special exemptions, a move which it previously said it would not do.
  • The idea of issuing special exemptions for K-pop boy bands has resulted in a larger debate over whether stars can use their fame to get out of military service. 

Will BTS Serve in the Military?

BTS’ record label clarified that no member of the K-pop boy band will serve in the South Korean army this year, despite a previous statement from a government official who said one member would serve. 

In 1957, South Korea enacted a mandatory service requirement for men between the ages of 18 and 28. By law, men must serve in the military for 21 months. If they don’t complete that service, they could face a number of repercussions, including being barred from international travel.

The band’s oldest member, Jin, will turn 27 in December, which means he’s currently running out of time to enlist. The other members of the band will also need to serve in the next few years to satisfy the requirement. 

For their part, the members of BTS have said they’ll serve when the time comes to do so.

“As a Korean, it’s natural, and someday, when duty calls, we’ll be ready to respond and do our best,” Jin told CBS Sunday Morning in April.

BTS has been at the forefront of the new debate over whether the South Korean government should extend special exemptions to boy bands and whether fame can be enough to get a person out of military service.

Currently, athletes can be exempted if they’ve won a medal in the Olympics or the Asian Games and musicians can earn exemption if they’ve won awards in classical or traditional music. Actors, however, rarely see exemptions. The few that are granted are typically because of health or money-related issues. In the last ten years, South Korea has only granted 220 such exemptions.

South Korea Denies BTS Exemption

In September, the Korean Ministry of National Defense said such an exemption for BTS was not possible.

“The Ministry of Defense is currently debating with related authorities on improving the current alternate service [program] in place of conscription,” ministry officials said, “but nothing has been decided as to when a change may take effect.”

However, on Oct. 18, South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination Noh Hyeong-ouk said a “comprehensive review” is needed to determine if boy bands like BTS can be exempted, adding that the military system should reflect the current times.

“We need to review the need for an open-door policy regarding special exceptions from military service in the K-pop industry, in order to provide motives for Korea’s expansion as a cultural content powerhouse,” Noh said.

That back and forth happened again when Ahn Min Seok—South Korea’s chairman for the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism—said he thought one of the members of BTS would be enlisting by the end of the year.

“It seems like it has been decided that they will not get any special treatment relating to military service for pop culture artists,” he said.

Big Hit Entertainment then denied the claim, with officials for the record label saying they didn’t know why such a story was reported.

Reactions

This situation has generated a mixed reaction online.

While many BTS fans have argued that BTS’ impact outweighs military service, some are mad this discussion is taking place and said they feel like the band is being exploited.

“Its crazy cause bts have yet to say anything about wanting military exemption yet they’re the face of it for kpop idols im so tired,” one user wrote. 

Other fans said they believe BTS should serve but all at the same time. That way, the band could simply go on a two-year hiatus instead of potentially rotating out members over the next decade.

Other people, however, are not at all pleased with the idea that BTS might be exempt from serving.

“To say that BTS deserve military exemption because they simply ‘paved the way’ sounds very disrespectful to Koreans,” one person tweeted. “I personally think the military would be good for the kpop idols.”

See what others are saying: (Showbiz Cheatsheet) (Korea Herald) (Paper)

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Comedian Gives David Beckham Ultimatum: Exit Role at Qatar World Cup Or £10K in Donations Gets Shredded

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“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded,” Joe Lycett said in a video.


Pressure on Beckham

Comedian Joe Lycett posted a video on Sunday saying he would shred £10,000 if soccer star David Beckham does not pull out of his deal to be an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. 

Ahead of the event, which kicks off on Nov. 20, many have been raising concerns about human rights abuses in Qatar. The country criminalizes homosexuality, and it can be punishable by death. 

Beckham’s deal to represent the country was reportedly worth £10 million, and many are frustrated that the athlete took such a big check from a country with known anti-LGBTQ laws. In his video, Lycett noted that Beckham has been openly supportive of his gay fans and was the first premiere footballer to do a photoshoot with a gay magazine. 

In an attempt to get Beckham to bow out of his role, Lycett, who is pansexual, offered an ultimatum.  

“If you end your relationship with Qatar, I’ll donate this £10,000 of my own money, that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting, to charities that support queer people in football,” he stated. “However, if you do not, at midday next Sunday, I will throw this money into a shredder.” 

“Not just the money, but also your status as a gay icon will be shredded.” 

Beckham’s Reputation “Shredded”

Lycett said he would livestream the money shredding if that’s what the situation comes to. If Beckham does not back out of the World Cup, Lycett noted he will be forced to “commit what might be a crime,” as destroying legal tender is against the law in the U.K.

“Although even then, I reckon I’ll get off more lightly than I would if I got caught whacking off a lad in Doha,” Lycett quipped.

Lycett then linked to a website titled https://benderslikebeckham.com/, which includes a written version of his message, as well as a countdown to when he will either shred the cash or send it to a non-profit. 

Lycett is not the only U.K star to raise concerns about issues in Qatar. Singer Dua Lipa shut down speculation that she would be performing at the World Cup over the weekend by saying she has no intentions to visit the country until “it has fulfilled all the human rights pledges it made when it won the right to host” the event. 

Other stars, however, including BTS’s Jung Kook, are slated to take the stage. 

See what others are saying: (CNN) (The Hollywood Reporter) (BBC News)

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Federal Judge Dismisses Dave Portnoy’s Lawsuit Against Insider

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The online personality called the decision “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 


Lawsuit Tossed

A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed a defamation lawsuit Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy filed against Business Insider, several outlets reported on Monday. 

According to a report from The Washington Post, Chief Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV decided that Portnoy did not successfully prove that the news outlet acted with “actual malice” or “reckless disregard for the truth” when it published two articles about his sexual relationships. 

The first article, published in Nov. 2021, detailed stories from women who said they had “violent” and traumatizing sex with Portnoy. A second piece was published in Feb. 2022 and includes sources who said Portnoy filmed sexual encounters without consent.

Portnoy has repeatedly denied the allegations and maintained that the sexual encounters were consensual and positive. He sued Insider in February following the publication of the second article. 

Per The Post, Saylor tossed the complaint because it did “not allege that Insider’s anonymous sources were fake, or that the articles misrepresented what the women told [Insider’s reporters].”

“Furthermore, plaintiff admits that Insider investigated its first article for months, requested an interview with him, sought his comment before publication, included his denials, and hyperlinked to his news conference and his lawyer’s full denial letter,” the judge’s decision continued. 

Saylor also noted that Insider corroborated their sources’ claims with photos, texts, medical reports, receipts, and accounts from their friends. 

While Portnoy argued that these stories were an invasion of privacy as they pertained to his private sex life and the women involved were not his employees, Insider held that their claims were relevant.

“When a rich, famous, and powerful person uses their power in a way that is harmful to other people, it is newsworthy,” Nicholas Carlson, Insider’s Global Editor-in-Chief, previously wrote in an editor’s note. 

Saylor largely agreed with that, saying that issues of consent and power are part of “legitimate public interest,” including in instances that arise outside “the employment context.”

Portnoy Responds

An Insider spokesperson told The Post that the outlet is “pleased and gratified that the judge dismissed his complaint.”

“We knew from the start that our reporting was careful, fair, and accurate, but it’s gratifying to see that validated in court,” Julia Black, one of the reporters named in the lawsuit, tweeted in response to the news. 

For his part, however, Portnoy has criticized the judge’s decision, calling it “disappointing” but not “overly surprising.” 

“Every single lawyer said it was an uphill battle, every legal expert said it was an uphill battle, that it’s almost impossible for a public figure to prove defamation,” he said in a video posted to Twitter. “The laws are stacked against me.”

Portnoy said that he turned in texts and other evidence he believed would prove the sexual encounters were positive but claimed “the judge didn’t even really look at the evidence.” 

He later read an excerpt from the judge’s decision that said Portnoy “can’t seek to prove actual malice by challenging statements that defendants did not publish.” 

“In other words: Business Insider did not publish any of my shit, I can’t talk about it, it’s not part of the case,” Portnoy explained. “It’s inadmissible.” 

He said he could appeal the decision if he wanted, but added he was not optimistic about how that would turn out for him. He floated the idea of suing the sources themselves, noting he thinks he would stand a better chance in such a case.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Post)

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Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and More Sign Letter in Support of Restricting Rap Lyrics as Evidence

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The letter claims the use of this evidence is a “racially targeted practice” that “punishes already marginalized communities and their stories.”


“Protect Black Art”

Megan Thee Stallion, Drake, and a slew of other major artists signed an open letter on Tuesday calling for politicians to restrict the use of rap lyrics as evidence in court. 

The letter, titled “Art on Trial: Protect Black Art,” argues that “more than any other art form, rap lyrics are essentially being used as confessions in an attempt to criminalize Black creativity and artistry.”

It follows statements from other advocates who claim that police and prosecutors are eager to interpret rap literally instead of treating it as a creative form of expression. By doing so, critics say they ignore the storytelling techniques, figurative language, and hyperbole that are often used in the genre, and weaponize those lyrics against their creators. 

Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that aims to limit the use of rap lyrics in court by requiring prosecutors to prove lyrics meet certain criteria and do not display a racial bias before submitting them. State legislators in New York are also weighing a bill with similar goals, and on the federal level, a bill titled the “RAP Act” was introduced in Congress over the summer. 

Tuesday’s letter urged state and federal politicians to pass these bills and others like it. It also encouraged prosecutors to drop the practice voluntarily. 

Jack Harlow, Future, DJ Khaled, Camilla Cabello, Coldplay, Alicia Keys, Normani, Travis Scott, and Christina Aguilera were among the slew of other stars who signed the letter. Record labels like Warner, Universal, and Def Jam joined the list, as did platforms like Spotify, Tidal, TikTok, and YouTube Music.

Rap in Court

According to Warner Music Group, experts have found over 500 cases where rap was used as evidence, and that is likely an undercount as several kinds of cases and proceedings were excluded from that figure. On the other hand, those experts found only four instances since the 1950s where non-rap lyrics were used as evidence, and three of those cases were tossed while the other was overturned after conviction.

The letter used Young Thug and members of the Young Stoner Life label, who are currently facing dozens of charges, including ones that accuse the label of being a criminal gang, as an example of this issue.

“The allegations rely heavily on the artists’ lyrics, which prosecutors claim are ‘overt evidence of conspiracy,’” the letter said. “In the indictment, Fulton County prosecutors argue that lyrics like ‘I get all type of cash, I’m a general,’ are a confession of criminal intent.”

The letter claims that using an artist’s words against them in this manner is “un-American” and “simply wrong.” 

“Beyond the obvious disregard for free speech and creative expression protected by the First Amendment, this racially targeted practice punishes already marginalized communities and their stories of family, struggle, survival, and triumph,” it continues. 

Julie Greenwald, Chairman & CEO of Atlantic Music Group, released a statement arguing that the freedom for musicians to form characters and narratives is “essential to the creative process and the role of art in society.” 

“The harsh reality is that Black artistic creativity is being threatened at an unprecedented level, and we must make every effort to stop this unethical, discriminatory approach to prosecution,” Greenwald added.

See what others are saying: (Variety) (NME) (Rolling Stone)

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