Fans of Korean celebrities, especially supporters of the younger ones, know all too well that there will come a day that their male idols have to enlist in the military. It would mean at least a year and half of no new content from them–no new music, no dramas, no variety shows, and other whatnots.
That’s because military service is required for all Korean men between the ages of 18 and 28. The law for compulsory military service for men has been around beginning 1957, and millions of Korean men have already trained and served their country since. And yes, this includes many Korean actors and singers. (Read: My Pope Asks: What Is The Korean Coffee Truck Culture?)
These personalities do not get any special treatment in the military–they train and do work just like any other enlistee! But just like their fellow enlistees, celebrities also get to choose what branch of the military they would want to serve in. So let’s take a look at some idols and actors who have already served in the military, and check out which branch or service they chose or were assigned to!
South Korea Military Service: SHINee’s Minho
SHINee member Minho served in the military from April 2019 to November 2020. He was part of the Marine Corps, a branch of the Republic of Korea Navy. During his time as a Marine, Minho was looked up to by his fellow soldiers for his dedication and passion. He was even called an “exemplary Marine soldier” by the ROK Marine Corps itself for foregoing an early discharge so he could participate in defense drills and trainings!
South Korea Military Service: Gong Yoo
Actor Gong Yoo, born Gong Ji-cheol, served back in 2008. During his time in the military, Gong Yoo was in active front line duty at the South Korean border! He also served in the public relations unit of the Army, and was also a DJ for Korean Forces Network, the Army radio station.
South Korea Military Service: Lee Jong-suk
Popular actor Lee Jong-suk from the series “W” was discharged from the service in January this year. From March 2019 to January 2021, Jong-suk served as a public service officer as he was deemed unfit for active duty. The actor was denied active duty because of a vehicular accident he was in when he was 16 years old, which resulted in an ACL tear. (Read: Yup, These Oppas Are Enlisting in the Military This Year)
South Korea Military Service: Hyun Bin
Hyun Bin already became a real life Captain Ri back in 2011! He was part of the Marines, as he was assigned to the branch. During his stay, he showed a remarkable performance that earned him the praises of the ROK Marine Corps. Just like Minho, Hyun Bin was also called an exemplary Marine soldier for being able to accomplish difficult and heavy Marine duties.
South Korea Military Service: Jo In-sung
Actor Jo In-sung served from April 2009 to May 2011. In those 25 months, In-sung was part of the Air Force. It is reported that he chose the branch as his father served as a non-commissioned officer, and he wanted to follow in his footsteps. The actor also joined the Air Force Military Band.