Mandatory military service in South Korea means fans have to bid farewell to their favourite male K-pop and K-drama stars for a while, but the hiatus makes their return that much more exciting. Their stage comeback after around 20 months of service, a period during which fans hear little news about them, is always a highly-anticipated spectacle.
These are some of the Korean celebrities who we look forward to seeing on our screens again in the next few months.
BtoB’s Sungjae and Hyunsik (November 14)
The two youngest members of the boy group BtoB, 26-year-old Sungjae and 29-year-old Hyunsik, enlisted together on May 11, 2020. The other members have been active in the meantime, even debuting a subunit of the band titled BtoB 4U.
However, in December 2020, Cube Entertainment announced rapper Ilhoon’s departure from the group, according to Soompi. And in June this year, the musician was sentenced to two years in prison for buying and using marijuana, reports The Straits Times.
But the remaining members persevered: they showed their talent in the TV competition show Kingdom: Legendary War and released the special album “4U: Outside” in August, leaving fans optimistic about further full-group activities once Sungjae and Hyunsik return.
Winner’s Jinu and Hoony (December 31 and January 15)
Jinu, vocalist of four-member boy group Winner, was the first to enlist in his group. The 30-year-old enlisted on April 2, 2020, right before the release of the group’s third studio album “Remember”, and is welcoming the new year with his discharge on December 31, according to Jazmine Media.
After the release of “Remember”, the group went on hiatus, with remaining members Yoon and Mino pursuing their solo careers.
Fellow Winner member, 28-year-old Hoony, who enlisted on April 16, 2020, is also expected to return on January 15.
Full-group activities should resume once all four members have completed their military duties – and the future is looking bright as all members recently renewed their contracts with YG Entertainment in August 2021.
Woo Do-hwan (January 5)
The King: Eternal Monarch actor Woo Do-hwan will be discharged on January 5 after enlisting on July 6, 2020, reports Soompi. Already anticipating the actor’s return to the screen, his agency, KeyEast Entertainment says that he is in talks to star in upcoming Netflix original series Hunting Dogs, based on an action noir webtoon series of the same name, according to the same source.
Vixx’s Ken (January 5)
Boy group Vixx member, 29-year-old Ken, will be discharged on the same day as Woo after enlisting on the same day as well. But since then, members Ravi, N and Hongbin chose not to renew their contracts with Vixx’s agency, Jellyfish Entertainment. N signed with 51k and continued with the group. Apart from N and Ravi’s solo activities, the group has remained quiet, making full-group activities in the future uncertain.
Zico (early 2022)
Zico, rapper and leader of boy group Block B, is expected to be discharged by early 2022, according to Republic World. The 29-year-old, who is known as a fashion king, left Block B’s agency KQ Entertainment (formerly known as Seven Seasons) in 2018 and established his own label KOZ Entertainment in 2019. Block B’s full-group activities have been on pause since. Fellow member P.O also left of the agency this year, further raising questions about whether the group will return as a whole.
However, Zico’s career as a soloist took off, particularly after the release of his hit single Any Song in 2020. The rapper has seen global success and fans have been looking forward to his future musical endeavours.
Exo’s Suho (February 13)
The leader of boy group Exo returns on February 13, 2022, after enlisting on May 14, 2020, according to Jazmine Media. Like Zico, Suho also debuted as a soloist before his enlistment, releasing his EP “Self-Portrait” in March 2020. The remaining members of the group released the special album “Don’t Fight the Feeling” in June and, despite being in the military, Suho showed his support for the album on Instagram. Though full-group activities have been on pause as almost half the members have been enlisted, we can look forward to solo and subunit activities as members slowly return.