Exo's Xiumin begins his mandatory military service

The 29-year-old singer is a member of the popular K-pop boy band Exo

Members of Exo pose together before Xiumin departs for his mandatory military service. 
Powered by automated translation

Exo’s Xiumin has entered his 18-month mandatory military enlistment. Born Kim Min-seok, he began his service as an active duty soldier on May 7, putting his career on hiatus while serving.

Just ahead of his enlistment, the 29-year-old singer showed off a new look, with his colourful locks shaved to reveal a buzz-cut hairstyle.

Xiumin’s bandmates also helped celebrate his send-off by posing for a group photo with their thumbs up on the band’s official Instagram account:

Suho also uploaded some extra shots from the day on his account, wishing Xiumin the best:

Chanyeol wrote, "While hyung (big bother) is protecting our country, we'll protect EXO-L. I'll go visit you in the army with Jongin":

South Korea military enlistment explained

In South Korea, all healthy and able-bodied males are required to serve starting at the age of 18. There are exemptions given but only currently to gold medal-winning athletes, classical musicians, dancers, and artists. Actors and K-pop stars are not included.

Deferment is possible but only up to the age of 28. Access to phones and the Internet is limited during their time away meaning that fans may not hear much from their favourite Idol while he is serving.

Those who try to dodge the compulsory service not only face harsh public backlash (including difficulties finding jobs later) but risk possible prison time as well.

What does this mean for Exo?

Normally K-pop Idols will release new music or host a farewell concert before beginning their service which is what Xiumin did. He performed his final concerts before his enlistment with Exo-CBX’s Magical Circus – Special Edition and held a solo fan meeting concert in Seoul on May 4.

Because the enlistment period lasts for a year and a half, it can be difficult for groups when members are forced to enlist. Some groups stagger their members so they can continue producing music and touring while other groups may not be as lucky and will see their members enlisting around the same time.

However, Exo-Ls are in luck as Xiumin's debut solo single You will release on Sm Entertainment's SM Station 3 on May 9.