Xiumin, who at 29 years old is the eldest of the act, will enlist on May 7, Billboard has confirmed. It will kick off a new era for the group as the vocalist, born Kim Min-seok but known predominantly by his stage name, will become the first member of EXO to take a hiatus from the K-pop industry to fulfill his service requirements. He will serve as an active duty soldier for a period of 21 months, Yonhap reports.
The announcement was made one day after EXO celebrated its seventh anniversary since starting off in 2012. Over the years, the group has landed three albums on the Billboard 200 chart. They saw their highest peak yet, when last year’s Don’t Mess Up My Tempo landed at No. 23 on the chart dated Nov. 17, 2018.
Xiumin got his start in the China-focused unit EXO-M before the act’s two teams, Korea-based EXO-K and EXO-M, joined together in 2013. Along with the group’s main activities, he has been active since 2016 as a member of EXO-CBX, a subunit featuring Xiumin along with members Chen and Bakehyun, and is also a popular television personality in South Korea.
In a letter released to Korean media, Xiumin expressed gratitude to EXO’s fans, known as EXO-L, and spoke about his enlistment and upcoming EXO-CBX concerts that he’ll appear at in Japan later this month.
Following the news, the terms “Xiumin” and “Minseok” trended worldwide on Twitter.
Read the entirety of Xiumin’s letter below, as translated by Soompi:
“Hello EXO-L. This is Xiumin!
Flowers have been blooming nicely these days. Have you gone out to see them? Flowers are appearing, the weather has gotten warmer, and yesterday was EXO’s seventh anniversary since debut! I feel gratitude to everyone and everything as I feel that EXO was born at a very nice time. Congratulations again to our members.
To be honest, I am writing today as there is important news I want to share with all of you first. Military duty! I am going to the military on May 7! ‘I will return in good health.’ I plan on arranging a time for us in the near future so that I can say these words to you directly. We have a CBX concert [in Japan] soon, and we will return after completing it successfully, so please wait just a bit.
Then let us all work hard on getting through today, as well!”