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South Korea Postpones BTS’ Mandatory Military Service for Two Years

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  • On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament approved a revision to the country’s Military Service Act, granting a two-year military conscription deferral for BTS’ oldest member, Jin.
  • Jin turns 28 on Friday. Under normal requirements, all able-bodied South Korean men must join the country’s military by then, meaning Jin only had several days left to sign up.
  • In fact, all seven BTS members will now be able to defer their military service period until the time they turn 30.
  • The revision comes after a year-long debate over whether internationally successful male K-pop groups are influential enough to be granted tightly-regulated exemptions they normally would not be able to receive. 
  • BTS alone is estimated to account for $4.65 billion of South Korea’s Gross Domestic Product. 

BTS Is Granted a Military Service Deferral

Kim Seok-jin, also known as Jin, is the oldest member of the global K-pop phenomenon BTS. On Friday, he’ll turn 28. While that news might not normally capture headlines, it coincided with his deadline to conscript in South Korea’s military — a prospect that held the potential to upheave the group’s ever-growing success.

On Tuesday, South Korea’s Parliament changed that deadline when it passed a revision to the country’s Military Service Act in a 270-2​ vote. Now, top K-pop performers can postpone their conscription until they turn 30, meaning BTS will be able to remain fully intact for the next two years. 

K-pop stars will only be eligible for the deferral if they have received government medals for helping to spread South Korea’s ​cultural influence internationally. Notably, all seven members of BTS have met that requirement because they all received such medals in 2018.

The legislation was introduced in South Korea’s parliament in September, shortly after BTS became the first K-pop group to reach No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 for “Dynamite.”

At the time, Representative Jeon Yong-gi argued that top pop stars — including BTS — should receive the deferral if they have raised the country’s national prestige. 

Another lawmaker argued that BTS should be able to receive a full exemption. Currently, such exemptions are extremely rare, and only a few hundred have been handed out since 2008. Even then, they usually only go to classical musicians or athletes who’ve won medals in the Olympic or Asian Games. They’ve never been granted to any pop stars. 

“There was a football player who was offered an exemption by playing for just four minutes at the 2014 London Olympics,” that lawmaker, Rep. Yoon Sang-hyun, wrote on social media, arguing that BTS’ success and economic effect outweighed that event.

BTS and the Debate Over Military Exemptions

The debate over a possible military exemption for BTS has been raging for more than a year now. 

In September 2019, South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense said such an exemption was not possible. 

In October of that same year, Noh Hyeong-ouk, the country’s Minister of Government Policy Coordination, said South Korea’s mandatory conscription 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,” he argued. 

That back and forth continued until November 2019 when the Ministry of National Defense seemed to put the speculation to rest by saying that BTS will still be required to conscript. Alongside that, it also imposed stricter rules on granting exemptions at all.

That decision was made, in part, because of a declining birthrate in South 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. Low numbers like that could impede the country’s ability to continue imposing pressure on North Korea.

According to South Korean law, all able-bodied men must conscript in the country’s military by the time they turn 28. They must then serve at least 18 months or risk a number of repercussions, including being barred from international travel — a not so good prospect for a world-famous pop group.

On Monday, BTS made further history as their new single, “Life Goes On,” became the first Korean-language song to top the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. In 2019, The Hollywood Reporter estimated that BTS accounted for a jawdropping $4.65 billion of South Korea’s GDP.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (CBS News) (Reuters)

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Disney Eviscerates Scarlett Johansson’s “Black Widow” Lawsuit as “Callous,” but Report Suggests Emma Stone and Emily Blunt May Follow Her Lead

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“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)

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Candace Owens and Logan Paul in Talks to Debate

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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)

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Finneas Slams Billie Eilish Troll Account for Attributing Fake Quotes to the Singer

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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.”

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

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. 

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

One post with a fake article ended up being retweeted 12,000 times. That tweet included Eilish claiming she longs to be poor.

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

“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.”

Screenshot @BilliesUpdatess

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.

See what others are saying: (NME) (Uproxx) (E! News)

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