In South Korea, it’s mandatory for all men aged between 19 and 35 to serve two years in the army. Celebrities are not exempt, and it’s easy to see in the below pictures just how much military life changes a man! These idols entered service as young men with baby faces and left looking rugged, confident and even more handsome!
1. Lee Seung Gi
Singer-turned-actor Lee Seung Gi enlisted in early 2016 and was assigned to the special forces unit – the unit that requires flight training. Deathly afraid of heights, he was forced to overcome a lot of hardships while in the military.
He wrote a letter just after he was discharged in October 2017, telling fans what he had learnt about himself during the two-year ordeal. “To Lee Seung Gi in his 20s, the line between what he could do and could not do seemed clear. If it was too hard, he had to rest and if he was tired, he had to catch his breath. But what Lee Seung Gi in his 30s learned as he served in the special forces was that the point at which he felt tired in his 20s was a little too soon, that it would have been all right for him to have taken a break after walking a little further.”
2. Yoo Seung Ho
Yoo Seung Ho, who had been acting since a very young age and found fame in the MBC drama Missing You, decided to voluntarily enlist in 2013 at the age of 19.
After being discharged, he said he had been forced to think about his future and that he would become an “actor that gives happiness to others.”
3. Song Joong Ki
By now we’re all used to seeing Song Joong Ki in military uniform from the hit drama Descendants of the Sun, but the actor had only just been discharged from his mandatory military training in 2015 when he began filming the drama.
He lost his baby face while he served in an infantry unit that patrolled the DMZ and came back ready to film as a soldier!
4. Super Junior‘s Donghae
Donghae started training almost exactly the same time as fellow member Eunhyuk in 2015.
He was assigned to Jongro’s Local Police Agency, Seoul and carried out his service as a police officer. Fans camped outside the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency days before his release in 2017 to make sure they could see him after his two-year absence!
5. Super Junior‘s Eunhyuk
Eunhyuk enlisted in the military in October 2015 and served in the military band. He donated 30 million won (~$26,000) to a fund that supports veterans of the military band before his discharge last year.
He was released two days before Donghae and took the time to attend his friend’s discharge ceremony.
6. TVXQ‘s Yunho
Yunho was discharged from Yangju’s 26th Mechanized Infantry Division in April 2017, months before band mate Changmin.
He threw himself into training and was selected as best trainee, chosen as a special class soldier, and became an honorary citizen of Yangju thanks to his exemplary service. When he left the military, he said it was as if time had stopped and was just starting again. “It was a time in which I could put down stories being said about U-Know Yunho and grow as the human being, Jung Yunho.”