- 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
Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in an uncharacteristically blunt statement that was heavily criticized online.
Johansson/Disney Lawsuit Gets Bitter
Disney has described a recent lawsuit from “Black Widow” actress Scarlett Johansson as “sad and distressing in its callous disregard for the horrific and prolonged global effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” but Johansson may have just unleashed what is to become an even bigger legal challenge for the House of Mouse.
At the center of this dispute, Johansson alleges she lost $50 million because Disney opted for a dual streaming/theater release of “Black Widow,” which debuted in theaters and for $30 on Disney+ with Premier Access earlier this month.
According to Johansson’s suit, her contract with Disney — which was negotiated prior to any hint of a pandemic — stipulated that “Black Widow” would see an exclusive theater release. Notably, the actress also said her contractual bonuses were tied to the movie’s box office performance, which is an extremely common practice with films featuring A-list celebrities.
Of course, when the pandemic hit — like many other industries — movies were upended. Pandemic-related changes meant that despite having an initial release date of May 2020, Marvel fans wouldn’t get a chance to see “Black Widow” for over a year.
Still, Johansson said she tried to contact Disney to renegotiate her contract prior to the film’s ultimate release, but she claims the company was unresponsive.
On Thursday, she then filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County Superior Court, with her attorney arguing that “Disney has enjoyed the benefits of having one of Hollywood’s top actresses promote its wholly owned subscription service at no additional cost to Disney, and with the intended effect of taking money out of that actress’ own pocket.”
Later Thursday, Disney claimed that it has “fully complied” with Johansson’s contract and that the streamed release of the film “has significantly enhanced her ability to earn additional compensation on top of the $20M she has received to date.”
“There is no merit whatsoever to this filing,” the company said in its uncharacteristically blunt statement.
Are Emma Stone and Emily Blunt Next?
Speaking of blunt, it was reported Friday that both Emily Blunt and Emma Stone may also file lawsuits against Disney’s dual streaming release of their films.
In fact, according to an exclusive newsletter run by former Hollywood Reporter Editor Matt Belloni, Stone “is said to be weighing her options” over the dual release of “Cruella” in May. Meanwhile, he suggested Blunt could also take action or speak out following this weekend’s release of “Jungle Cruise.”
Belloni went on to describe Disney as “notoriously difficult to deal with” regarding such matters and claimed that many have simply been waiting for someone powerful enough to speak out.
Disney Criticized for Its Response
Much of the public perception of the situation has led to overwhelming support for Johansson’s camp. Online, a slew of people lambasted Disney’s response, with many calling it a deflection.
See what others are saying: (ScreenRant) (Newsweek) (Variety)
Candace Owens and Logan Paul in Talks to Debate
A spokesperson confirmed to Insider Wednesday that the two have had “productive” conversations about the prospect offline.
Candace Owens Challenges Logan Paul to a Debate
Right-wing commentator Candace Owens and controversial YouTuber Logan Paul are in talks to engage in a political debate. Yes, you read that sentence correctly.
Owens — best known for making false claims about the George Floyd protests, spreading COVID-19 misinformation, and seemingly saying that Adolf Hitler “just wanted to make Germany great” — first challenged Paul to a debate on Friday. It started with her sharing a year-old clip from Paul’s podcast where he spoke about the importance of fighting racism in the United States.
“It is not enough to be ‘not racist.’ You have to be anti-racist,” he said.
“If you’re white, if you look like me, use your privilege,” he added. “And for those who do not think white privilege exists, you are fucking blind.”
Because merely acknowledging the existence of racism appears to go against Owens’ core beliefs, she asked Paul to duke it out with her.
“Logan loves to challenge people in the boxing ring,” she wrote. “I’d like to publicly challenge him to go a few rounds with me in a political debate. @LoganPaul—how about you stop by my show and explain to me how you’re *checks notes* more privileged than me because you’re white and I’m not?”
Spokesperson Confirms The Two Are in Talks
Paul — best known for launching a boxing career and filming a YouTube video that showed a dead body in Japan’s “suicide forest” — said on Tuesday that he was “perplexed” by the offer, but was taking it seriously.
“I started to entertain this action, I ended up speaking with her, and there may be a future where we sit down and have a civil discourse because I think there’s some meat on this bone,” he said during the most recent episode of his “ImPaulsive” podcast.
The internet star acknowledged that Owens’ main arena is politics, while his main arena is being a “fucking idiot” online. Still, he said he does care about these issues and has a “semi-intelligent brain,” so he thinks he could “hold [his] own.”
“Candace Owens, whether you can admit it or not, is a smart person,” Paul continued. “And so I guess I’m just curious because I just fucking fundamentally disagree with her and again, I think there’s room for a conversation.”
A spokesperson for Owens confirmed to Insider on Wednesday that the two had a “productive” offline conversation and said a public political debate between the two is “very likely.”
“Although both of them disagree on a variety of topics, they are both much more interested in learning from one another and think people would benefit from hearing an honest discussion between two parties rather than a ‘gotcha’ moment that might play well for social media,” the spokesperson added.
See what others are saying: (Insider)
Finneas Slams Billie Eilish Troll Account for Attributing Fake Quotes to the Singer
Eilish’s big brother said the account is spreading “relentless lies” and asked that it at least label itself as a satire account.
Troll Account Shares Fake Billie Eilish Quotes
Billie Eilish’s brother and collaborator Finneas took to Twitter Tuesday to address an account that has been sharing fake quotes attributed to his sister.
The account uses the handle @BilliesUpdatess and goes by the name of “Billie Eilish Updates” in its profile. It was created in July of 2021 and as of Wednesday morning, it had amassed a following of 1,100 people. On a quick glance, it looks just like any other update account a fan might make to share news about their favorite celebrity.
@BilliesUpdatess, however, is far from the standard adoring fan page. Of the over 300 tweets it has posted, several include screenshots of forged articles that make it look like Eilish said something either offensive or totally outlandish. One post claims Eilish defended her boyfriend after he was accused of supporting former president Donald Trump.
“At the end of the day, I fucking love him you know?” the phony statement reads. “It doesn’t matter if he made some homophobic comments in the past, people change. If he [Matthew] supports Donald Trump then I don’t care if it makes him happy. I support EVERY decision Mathew has to make, even the ones some of my fans don’t agree with, like maybe some of his icky comments.”
In another sham passage, Eilish says she thinks queerbaiting “is a really good thing!” In several others, the person behind the account comes up with artificial quotes to make it looks like Eilish is feuding with “driver’s license” singer Olivia Rodrigo.
One post with a fake article ended up being retweeted 12,000 times. That tweet included Eilish claiming she longs to be poor.
“When I got rich, I started balling my eyes out,” the fake piece says. “I wanted to be poor so I can relate to most of my fans. I still want to be broke and poor, it looks really fun and cute.”
Finneas Slams Account
As the troll account started to gain traction, Finneas asked that people report and block it to minimize the spread of its “relentless lies.”
On Tuesday, he responded to a fan that tagged him in the @BilliesUpdatess tweet alleging his sister wanted to be poor.
“Fake obviously,” Finneas wrote. “Honestly I just wish they’d label this account satire like the onion or something. I have no problem with a joke as long as people know it’s a joke.”
The account made several jokes about the fact that Finneas was calling it out, but it seems Eilish’s big brother got what he asked for. @BilliesUpdatess added “parody account” to its bio and the account was deleted as of Wednesday afternoon.