- On Thursday, South Korea’s Ministry of Defense said members of the K-pop band BTS will be required to serve in the military.
- Some lawmakers had argued that BTS should be granted an exemption because of its massive influence.
- The band’s oldest member, Jin, is expected to enter service sometime next year before he reaches the age deadline of 28-years-old.
- The announcement comes as the South Korean military struggles with a dwindling active military population because of falling birthrates.
BTS Will Serve in the Military
Thursday, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense announced that K-pop band BTS will be required to serve in the country’s military, ending more than a year of speculation over whether or not the band members would enlist.
The announcement comes as the defense ministry imposes stricter rules for exemption to South Korea’s mandatory military service. By law, all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 28 must enlist.
Notably, the new rules will allow fewer people from industry and research sectors to be able to qualify for exemptions. The tighter regulations mean that besides BTS, no pop stars will be allowed to gain exemption status.
“We came to review this system to reduce the number of exemptions in the first place, so we did not at all consider expanding exemptions.” Lee Nam-woo, chief of the Defense Ministry’s personnel welfare office, said Thursday.
“We also believe that military duty will not hurt the talents of popular performers so critically that they cannot perform anymore,” he added.
Previously, award-winning classical musicians and athletes that have won medals in either the Olympics or the Asian Games have been exempted. Notably, this reduction to exemptions will not affect their ability to gain exemption status if they’ve won such awards.
Notably, however, while South Korea will reduce the number of exemption-qualifying games for athletes, if an athlete is on a team that ends up winning such an award, that athlete will still be able to obtain an exemption even if he didn’t play in the winning game. Before this, it became common practice for all athletes in a team to play for at least a minute to be able to qualify for an exemption.
Falling Birthrates Lead to Shrinking Military
Thursday, the South Korean Military Manpower Administration directly mentioned BTS in a statement following the Defense Ministry’s announcement.
“On the request that the exemption needs to be expanded to pop artists like BTS, which has raised national image,” an official said, “we decided not to waiver military service, considering the government position to enhance fairness and downsize the number of exemption due to manpower shortage.”
On the note of “manpower shortage,” South Korea is currently facing its lowest birth rates in recorded history. While a country needs a birth rate of 2.0 to signify a growing country, South Korea’s has fallen to 0.98 because of shrinking fertility rates and an increasingly large elderly population.
That has led to some fear surrounding the South Korean military and its ability to continue imposing pressure against North Korea. Currently, South Korea has about 600,000 active soldiers but by 2022, it projects that number will fall to 500,000. Over the next two decades, the ministry expects that number to shrink again by half.
On top of that, June 2020, conscripts will only need to serve 18 months instead of 21. The shortened conscription time actually comes as part of a campaign promise made by President Moon Jae-in.
Amidst Controversy, BTS Promises to Serve
Despite over a year of debate among fans, lawmakers, and the military, for their part, BTS has said they will serve when the time comes.
“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.
Jin, however, has been the subject of the most scrutiny. As the band’s oldest member, he will turn 27 next month, meaning under normal law, he will be required to enlist by next year at the latest.
Because BTS has brought massive international attention to South Korea and has contributed to $4.65 billion of the country’s GDP, many have wondered if that would be enough to exempt the band for military service.
Though presented as a debate over whether BTS could be granted exempt, the band seemingly served as a litmus test for whether exemptions could be extended to pop stars.
In September, the Korean Ministry of National Defense said an exemption wasn’t possible.
In October, the band’s label, BigHit Entertainment, then said none of the band members would serve this year; however, that statement did not mean the members wouldn’t eventually serve.
“The company believes military service is a duty,” BigHit told The Hollywood Reporter. “We will try to show the fans the best of BTS until, and after, the members have fulfilled their service duties.”
Also last month, South Korea’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination said that the military should reflect the current times and asked for a “comprehensive review” to determine whether K-pop boy bands should also be able to get exemptions.
Regarding the enlistment, fans have been somewhat divided on this announcement.
On one hand, some fans have said that because of the band’s massive influence, they should be exempted. Others, though avoiding a stance of whether or not BTS should serve, noted what they believe to be a double standard compared to athletes and other artists.
On the other hand, a lot of fans agreed that they should enlist because all South Koreans are expected to serve, those fans, also once again pointing out that BTS has said they will serve.
“International fans who don’t understand mandatory military services have literally no right to interfere because their opinion is invalid,” one fan wrote. “Like it’s the government’s decision as the members are Korean citizens before idols. It’s basically their duty to serve their nation.”
OMG International fans who don’t understand mandatory military services have literally no right to interfere because their opinion is invalid. Like it’s the government’s decision as the members are Korean citizens before idols. It’s basically their duty to serve their nation.— 은 #찬바람불땐_아스트로_블루플레임 (@rohamoarmy) November 21, 2019
L.A. Frozen Yogurt Shop Addresses Online Rumors After Demi Lovato Slammed It for Offering Sugar-Free Options
- A Los Angeles-based frozen yogurt shop denied reports that singer Demi Lovato had sent it a donation or caused any changes to its menu after rumors spread on social media this week.
- Lovato launched a feud with the froyo store, named The Bigg Chill, over the weekend for offering “tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods.” She called the shop, and other brands that do the same, “diet culture vultures.”
- The Bigg Chill responded by saying they offer such items for people with dietary restrictions like diabetes and celiac disease.
- Lovato apologized for the tone of her messaging and suggested the shop label its products in a way that is less triggering for people like herself who are recovering from eating disorders.
Froyo Shop Clarifies Rumors
There’s nothing quite like a good rivalry. David Vs. Goliath, Rocky Vs. Apollo Creed, The Jedi vs. The Sith, and now, Demi Lovato vs. a Los Angeles frozen yogurt joint called The Bigg Chill.
The befuddling feud started over the weekend when the singer called the shop out on Instagram for carrying “tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods.” As of Wednesday, the fallout from the controversy has not died down and The Bigg Chill had to take to their Instagram story to clarify rumors that are spreading as a result of the saga.
Some internet users have been claiming that the frozen yogurt shop changed its menu following the public dispute. Others have said that Lovato gifted The Bigg Chill a generous apology donation. Neither appear to be true.
“We have not received any donations from Demi’s team nor do we want one,” The Bigg Chill wrote. “We have not made any changes to our menu.
Demi Lovato Calls Out The Bigg Chill
Lovato is recovering from an eating disorder and has been very open about her struggle. On social media, she regularly advocates for body positivity, mental health, and has called out trends that promote eating disorders. Her weekend post that called out The Bigg Chill attempted to do just that.
“Finding it extremely hard to order froyo from The Bigg Chill when you have to walk past tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods before you get to the counter,” she wrote. “Do better please. #DietCultureVultures.”
The Bigg Chill ended up responding to her, saying that they carry these options for people with certain dietary needs and restrictions, like vegans, people with diabetes, celiac disease, and more. The company also privately messaged her to clarify this and apologize if she found this offensive.
Lovato shared that message and her response on Instagram. She said her entire experience in the shop was triggering and that they should make the shop more inviting for everyone, noting that eating disorders are among the deadliest mental illnesses.
“You aren’t wrong for catering to many different needs but it’s about not excluding one demographic to cater to others,” she wrote.
She also suggested that the shop should label these products differently so that their intent is clear and the diet-focused messaging does not trigger people recovering from eating disorders.
The back-and-forth generated a lot of chatter on social media, largely from people who did not understand Lovato’s choice to so strongly condemn The Bigg Chill. Many frozen yogurt and other dessert shops offer sugar-free, gluten-free, or other diet-flexible options, so the attack appeared to come from left field. Others thought it was unfair for her to draw so much negative attention to a local business.
Fellow celebrities ended up getting involved, either quietly or with strong intent. In fact, the Bigg Chill ended up sharing an Instagram story posted by media personality Mia Khalifa, who tagged the shop in a photo and encouraged people to support local businesses that accommodate dietary needs.
Actress Jameela Jamil backed Lovato on Instagram, arguing that the marketing of diet products and health foods should change.
“If an eating disorder advocate says she sees products that are positioned as guilt free, and it is potentially triggering, that doesn’t mean she’s too stupid to remember that diabetics exist,” Jamil wrote. “It just means that we need to change the marketing of products that are for people’s medical needs.”
“Guilt free is diet culture terminology,” she added. “We need to stop using that fucking term.”
Lovato ended up apologizing to The Bigg Chill in an eight minute video on Instagram. She said her messaging did not come across as intended and that she really just wanted to express how triggering the experience was for her.
She explained that for her and other people recovering from eating disorders, going into a froyo shop, ordering something, and feeling good about that choice is extremely difficult. She said seeing a variety of diet products on display just reminds her of this.
“So that’s why I’m super sensitive when I walk into a froyo place and I see diet stuff. I’m going to be protective,” she said. “I’m protective of the little girl inside of me that didn’t get that representation at a young age of someone saying ‘all of this diet stuff is not okay, you’re worth more than that.’”
“My intentions were not to come in and bully a small business,” she continued. “That was not it. I walked in and was so triggered that I left without froyo and it made me really sad.”
Lovato also said she would be willing to work with The Bigg Chill to change the branding of those products if they were interested. On Wednesday, the shop said that outside of what they described as her “Sorry Not Sorry” apology, they have not heard from the star or or her team.
While this rigmarole may have been akin to a headache for the store, it appears to have generated a good amount of free press for the business. According to the Los Angeles Times, prior to Lovato’s post, The Bigg Chill had 6,000 Instagram followers. As of Wednesday afternoon, it has 34,000.
See what others are saying: (Los Angeles Times) (HuffPost) (Eater)
BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Backlash After Claiming “Luther” Was Not an “Authentic” Black Lead
- BBC Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland sparked backlash after saying Monday that the Idris Elba-led series “Luther” was not authentic because the Black protagonist “doesn’t have any Black friends” and “doesn’t eat any Caribbean food.”
- Many criticized Wayland’s remarks, arguing that she essentially implied the character was not “Black enough” because he did not fall into certain stereotypes.
- BBC defended the show and said they were “tremendously proud” of “Luther.” Meanwhile series creator Neil Cross said one of the reasons Elba was attracted to the role was because it did not center on race.
BBC Diversity Chief Sparks Controversy
The Diversity Chief at BBC sparked backlash after implying that the title character in the hit series “Luther” was not an authentic Black lead.
The crime drama ran for five seasons between 2010 and 2019, starring Idris Elba as detective John Luther. It won Elba a Golden Globe in 2012 and earned him four Emmy nominations.
“When [Luther] first came out everybody loved the fact that Idris Elba was in there — a really strong, Black character lead,” BBC’s Diversity Chief Miranda Wayland said while speaking on diversity and inclusion strategies during the Digital MIPTV conference on Monday. “We all fell in love with him. Who didn’t, right?”
“But after you got into about the second series you got kind of like, OK, he doesn’t have any Black friends, he doesn’t eat any Caribbean food, this doesn’t feel authentic,” she continued.
Fans Defend “Luther”
Her remarks upset numerous people who felt Wayland was implying that Luther was not “Black enough” because he didn’t fall into certain racial stereotypes.
“This farcical criticism was clearly thought up out of boredom or just sheer ignorance,” one Twitter user wrote. “Luther is a brilliant series and actually shows a Black actor in a light not defined by anything but his ability to do his job. Stop using stereotypes to justify your own insecurities.”
Many pointed to the fact that even successful actors like Elba still have to deal with being labeled either “not Black enough” in some roles, but “too Black” for others. Elba has long been rumored as a potential pick to be the next James Bond. If he were cast, he would be the first Black actor to take the famous role. Despite his popularity, nothing has come of those rumors.
Others found the criticism of him not having Black friends to be especially weak because Luther did not have a lot of friends in general, as one of his character traits was his stark commitment to his job.
BBC and “Luther” Creator Respond
The creator of “Luther,” Neil Cross, told The Daily Mail that one of the reasons Elba was interested in the role was because it had nothing to do with race. Many doubled down on the fact that the show was great because his character was complex and human on his own without having to deal with racial issues, something that is often not seen in shows with Black leads.
Great thing about Luther is that his skin colour isn’t the core of his identity.— Calvin Robinson (@calvinrobinson) April 14, 2021
He’s fighting many battles. An example that we’re all human, we all struggle, but our ethnicity doesn’t always play a part in that.
That’s diversity, @MirandawTV. Equality!https://t.co/sIDc7c0pnL
“I have no knowledge or expertise or right to try to tackle in some way the experience of being a Black man in modern Britain,” Cross said in his statement to The Daily Mail. “ It would have been an act of tremendous arrogance for me to try to write a Black character.”
“We would have ended up with a slightly embarrassed, ignorant, middle-class, white writer’s idea of a Black character,” he continued.
A BBC spokesperson also defended the show in a statement to The Independent saying the network is “tremendously proud” of “Luther.”
“The BBC is committed to its continued investment in diversity and recent BBC One dramas ‘I May Destroy You’ and ‘Small Axe’ are testament to that,” the spokesperson continued. “Of course people can have open discussions about our shows but that doesn’t mean it’s a statement of policy.”
Elba himself has not directly responded to the situation, though some think an Instagram story he posted Wednesday may have been related to it.
“We must not pull ourselves backwards, only push ourselves forward,” the actor wrote.
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (The Daily Mail) (The Wrap)
Durte Dom Returns To TikTok Following Sexual Assault Accusation Levied Against Him
- YouTuber Dom Zeglaitis, a former member of David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad known online as Durte Dom, returned to the Internet less than one month after he was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 2018 who was too drunk to consent.
- Zeglaitis has not issued a response to the allegation, but in the past three days, he has posted a dozen TikToks that mostly consist of short sketches and jokes he filmed with friends.
- One post shows Zeglaitis participating in the “Bulletproof” challenge, with text in the clip reading, “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…”
- Several people, including major creators like Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, are now calling him out for seeming to make light out of a serious situation.
Durte Dom Returns To Internet
Former Vlog Squad member Dom Zeglaitis, also known as “Durte Dom,” has resumed posting on social media after nearly a month of silence since he was accused of sexual assault.
A woman told Insider in March that Zeglaitis raped her while she was too drunk to consent to sexual activity in 2018. She said that she and her friends were hanging out with YouTuber David Dobrik’s Vlog Squad at the time. The accuser, who was under 21 the night of the alleged assault, claimed the group supplied her and her friends with alcohol.
The fallout of this allegation has been significant. While Zeglaitis has yet to respond to it, Dobrik has issued multiple apologies and faced most of the financial repercussions as frontman of the group. Both Zeglaitis and Dobrik were later demonetized by YouTube. Dobrik also lost multiple sponsorship deals and bowed out of Dispo, a photo-sharing app he co-founded. He is now taking a break from YouTube and social media.
Though Zeglaitis has returned to the Internet, he is still largely ignoring the sexual assault accusation levied against him. He specifically began posting on TikTok over the weekend, and since then has posted roughly a dozen videos on the platform.
Durte Dom Jokes About The Vlog Squad on TikTok
Most of the videos are short sketches or comedy bits with his friends. In one, he and a friend are going through Omegle while Zeglaitis is off-screen. The friend asks the people on the other end of the chat “What are your thoughts on Durte Dom?” before Zeglaitis enters the shot.
Several of the videos continue to reference Zeglaitis’ sleazy, womanizing, reputation. One shows him claiming to have “smashed” adult film star Riley Reid. In another, he is sitting on a lounge chair throwing money at girls dancing next to him.
The video generating the most attention, however, is his take on the viral “Bulletproof” challenge. That TikTok features him standing below a text block that reads “You think you can hurt my feelings?!? I got kicked out of the Vlog Squad for…” while the song “Bulletproof” plays in the background.
In the caption of that video, he tagged Dobrik and asked “bruh why they kick me out?!?”
Creators Call Out Zeglaitis for Ignoring Allegation
This specific TikTok caught the attention of major creators, including Tana Mongeau and Ethan Klein, who dueted that video to call Zeglaitis out.
“Someone please make this make sense to me,” Mongeau wrote.
“This mf serious?” Klein said.
They are not the only ones frustrated with Zeglaitis. Many responded to the video in the comment section shocked he was posting at all, bringing up the sexual assault allegation, and urging him to not treat it as a joke.
The comment sections on the rest of his videos are similarly flooded with people who are outraged that he is posting regular content as though nothing had happened.