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Korean pop icon Rain confined to barracks to “repent”

By spcnet.tv on January 9th, 2013 | Korean Entertainment

South Korean pop icon Rain has been confined to barracks for a week, the defence ministry said Tuesday, after his dating put him on the wrong side of the country’s strict military service rules.

“Under a decision by the disciplinary commission of his unit, Rain will be confined to his barracks to spend seven days of repentance,” a defence ministry spokesman said.

The 30-year-old singer is a little over halfway through the two-year military service that is mandatory for all able-bodied South Korean men.

The country’s well-oiled celebrity gossip machine went into overdrive last week when it was confirmed that Rain had begun dating Kim Tae-Hee, 32, a TV drama star with a massive following in Japan.

But fan excitement was tempered by questions over how the couple had managed numerous reported dates. During their military service men are given little free time, even for family visits.

“He breached regulations against having private meetings while on official duty,” the ministry spokesman said.

The punishment was one of the lightest options open to the disciplinary committee.

Rain, whose real name is Jung Ji-Hoon, is one of the biggest names in the world of K-pop, which commands a huge following in South Korea, across much of Asia and beyond.

After tabloid pictures of his dates with Kim emerged, the defence ministry’s website was bombarded with messages calling for him to be disciplined.

Some suggested he be forced to repeat his military service like the “Gangnam Style” star Psy, who was made to serve twice after it emerged he had furthered his showbiz interests during his first stint.

Military service is taken extremely seriously in South Korea, which remains technically at war with North Korea because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a ceasefire rather than a peace treaty.

Apart from those with physical disabilities, exemptions are rare and anyone refusing to serve — for moral or religious reasons — faces an automatic jail term.

Celebrities are frequently caught attempting to evade military service for fear they might be forgotten by their fans while in uniform.

Just as he was about to be called up in 2002, Korean-American pop singer Steve Yoo gave up his Korean nationality and became a naturalised US citizen.

The South Korean government considered it an act of desertion and he was deported and banned from returning for life.

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