BTS rekindle debate about military service in South Korea

A surprise decision by South Korean boy band BTS to take a break from live shows

has rekindled debate about mandatory military service in a country setting global

pop-culture trends while facing a decades old Cold War threat.

Military service is hugely contentious in South Korea where all able-bodied men

aged between 18 and 28 are meant to serve for about two years as part of efforts to defend against a hostile North Korea.

Over the years particular categories of men have won exemptions - either allowed

to put off service for a certain time or allowed to do shorter service - including men

who win a medal at the Olympics or Asian Games and classical musicians and

dancers who win a top prize at certain competitions.