Six straightforward steps for surviving a K-pop performer’s mandatory military service
It’s something every fan of Korean pop music will have to deal with at least once in their life: the mandatory military service of a favorite performer. South Korea requires that all Korean-born men serve in the military full-time for a certain period of time. Men have from age 20 to age 30 to complete their service and the length of service depends on the branch of the military in which they serve. At this time, service requirements are 21 months for the Army and the Marines, 23 months for the Navy, and 24 months for the Air Force. For more information on South Korea’s mandatory military service, click here and here.
What’s a fan to do in circumstances like these? This is a long time to go without updates, events, or new projects from a favorite performer. The performer is also in a potentially dangerous environment, which can be worrying for a fan. How does a fan take care of himself or herself during this difficult time and also continue to support the absent performer?
First: Know that it’s OK to grieve.
As mentioned above, mandatory military service means no news articles, social media updates, albums, or concerts from a performer for nearly two years. It is absolutely OK to be sad and disappointed and to miss the performer’s presence in the entertainment industry.
Second: Talk to other fans about what you’re going through.
Talking to fellow fans of this performer will help you to know that you’re not alone in what you’re experiencing, and you can derive comfort from one another by sharing memories about the performer as well as your hopes for his career after his military service is complete. You can also learn a lot by talking to fans of performers who have completed their military service and asking them how they made it through. As it says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Third: Draw closer to God.
Though other fans can be an excellent resource and source of encouragement, God is the only one who can truly understand the aspects of this experience that are unique to you and the only one who is constantly available to you for comfort and support. Talk to Him about what you’re feeling and ask Him to help you. He can handle any and all of your emotions and guide you safely through any set of circumstances. As it says in Psalm 34:4, 6, “I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. … This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.”
Fourth: Pray for the performer, especially for his safety and his career.
Even though a performer may not be on the front lines of a dangerous military operation, it’s still important to pray for his safety. Ask God to protect him from illness, accidents, and other unforeseen circumstances in addition to the hardships and hazards of military service. Pray, too, for the performer’s career, that God will preserve public interest in the performer and have plenty of work opportunities waiting for him when he’s discharged. My Prayers for Oppa performer/fan devotional book is an excellent resource as to how to pray for performers, and many of the prayer topics, such as Fatigue and Loneliness, can be applied to a performer’s military service as well as to his career and personal life.
Fifth: Support the performer’s career during his absence.
If you’ve been holding off on buying some of the performer’s albums or other merchandise, consider making these purchases while he’s in the military. This shows his company that there’s public interest in his career even in his absence and indicates to others in the industry (variety show producers, musical casting directors, etc.) that the public is interested in seeing him once his service is complete. Continuing to share about the performer on social media and making it clear that you miss his presence in the industry and are anticipating his return will also help in this regard.
If this performer is part of a group, continue to support the other members in his absence, both through social media and by purchasing their albums, event tickets, and other merchandise. This will demonstrate to the performer’s company and to other industry professionals that the performer’s group is viable and in demand even when a member is missing, which will help ensure that this performer (and the other members, when their turns come) has a strong career to return to.
Sixth: Support his career when he returns.
Now that the performer has been discharged and is back to work, it’s time to make good on the appreciation and support you expressed while he was away. Buy his albums and merchandise, attend his concerts and events, send social media messages or organize fan projects to welcome him back, and generally support his new work opportunities.
I wish to add a disclaimer for the fifth and sixth points that you should not feel obligated to support a performer by purchasing his albums, etc. if that isn’t financially feasible for you. You can still give him plenty of career-building and soul-sustaining support through prayer and social media.
Though a male performer’s mandatory military service can be a challenging time for the performer and fans alike, it also offers an opportunity for spiritual growth for the performer and his fans as well as a fresh restart to his career. Overall, prayer is the most important component in handling these difficult circumstances. As it says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
– Teresa Santoski
Looking for more godly encouragement geared specifically toward performers and fans? Check out Prayers for Oppa, my performer/fan devotional, which features prayers and Bible verses on Good Health, Performance Safety, Loneliness, and other topics of interest to performers and their fans. For more information, including a sample chapter and how/where to purchase, click here.