Fans of K-pop star band BTS across the globe have been wondering why their favourite band is not available on South Korea’s military communications platform called The Camp any longer. The app was officially set up to allow families and friends to communicate with those undertaking military enlistment, through smartphones, and even has a special section for fans to communicate with celebrities serving in the military.
All seven BTS members are currently fulfilling their mandatory military service. However, since December 22, there have been no updates from the K-pop group on the app.
According to South Korean news reports, the unexpected removal occurred due to an Intellectual Property Rights Issue, which arose after a wave of fans flooded the platform demanding frequent updates of BTS members.
What is ‘The Camp’ app
‘The Camp’ is a dedicated military communication channel, which was launched in 2018 by a technological firm called EnableOnSoft. The integrated platform can be used for those in the military to communicate with their families from pre-enlistment or training till the time they are discharged from their duties.
Its key feature allows family and friends to send encouraging e-letters to trainees. The app limits users to 1,500 characters per letter. It also posts pictures of those serving in the military from time to time.
A 'Soldier Registration' section, on the app, has a 'Recommended Star Soldier' corner where idols and celebrities are listed separately. According to the South Korean news website chosun.com, about 30 famous soldiers and trainees are listed, including actor Nam Joo-hyuk, rapper Song Min-ho, and vocalist Go Woo-rim.
When BTS members started enlisting, with Jin as the first to enlist in December 2022, fans were happy to learn about the outlet that gives them an official platform to both send and receive information about the members during their mandatory military enlistment period.
Their global fanbase, called Armys, started overloading the communications platform sending in millions of letters.
So, from February 2023, the platform introduced a paid option, where users could send letters of unlimited length to enlisted idols after they complete the training camp.
However, on December 22, all BTS members were missing from the ‘Recommended Star Soldier’ list and the app itself.
Chosun.com reported that according to EnableOnSoft CEO Jang Cheol-min: “BTS’s agency, BigHit Music, has the members’ publicity rights (the right to obtain economic benefits by using their personal identities, such as portraits and names), but it seems that they misunderstand that The Camp is using this to engage in business activities, so let’s start with celebrities under large management. They all [BTS members] got off.”
Reportedly, EnableOnSoft earns revenue primarily through advertising on the app. However, some speculate that EnableOnSoft is monopolising communication with enlisted idols, calling it a shrewd business strategy. K-culture fans have noticed that ‘The Camp’ has developed several services to monetise the platform, for fans to access it.
While BigHit Music has not released an official statement regarding the issue, fans took to social media to react to the news reports. Many said that they were happy that BTS’ entertainment agency has taken legal action to ensure that the members’ photos are not used for monetisation by EnableOnSoft.