EXO's Kai is set to fulfill his mandatory military service, leaving fans feeling a sense of loss.

On May 3, SM Entertainment announced, "We are here to deliver sudden news regarding Kai's military service. He will be entering the army training center on May 11." Kai will complete his basic military training and serve as a public service worker to fulfill his national defense duties.

With just eight days left until his enlistment, Kai's abrupt announcement left fans in confusion. The shock was amplified as EXO members had consistently mentioned the release of a full group album since last year, and fans had eagerly awaited their complete comeback.

SM Entertainment cited "changes in the regulations of the Military Manpower Administration" as the reason for Kai's sudden enlistment. In contrast, the Military Manpower Administration refuted SM's claim, stating, "There has been no change in regulations," expressing regret over the situation.

According to the Military Service Act, both celebrities and non-celebrities can postpone their enlistment up to five times within two years. Among these five times, there are two "other reasons" allowed, which include illness or self-employment. This "other reason" has become the main point of contention in the current situation.

Industry insiders claim that the Military Manpower Administration headquarters only recognizes two out of the five possible postponements for entertainment activities. However, the regional offices that handle the actual work have typically allowed all five postponements for entertainment purposes.

Recently, though, there has been a shift in this approach, which many believe has been influenced by recent controversies surrounding military service evasion. Singer Ravi was sentenced to two years in prison for attempting to evade military service by faking epilepsy with the help of a broker. Singer Nafla, who was signed to Ravi's agency Groovl1n, also faced a two-year and six-month prison sentence for faking worsened depression to evade service.

This military evasion scandal even involved officials from the Military Manpower Administration and Seocho District Office. One official was handed over to trial for helping Nafla evade military service, while another is still awaiting sentencing. As a result, the Military Manpower Administration has been stricter in managing those with military service duties and has instructed internal departments to be more vigilant.

In the end, the changed "operational tactics" surrounding military postponements were what led to the current situation, and both the Military Manpower Administration's claim that "regulations haven't changed" and SM Entertainment's claim that "regulations have changed" are not entirely incorrect.

EXO had been enthusiastically preparing for a full group comeback until recently. Kai himself expressed frustration and even shed tears over the situation.

Kai said, "It's so sudden, and I'm worried. I think the fans will miss me a lot. We had so much prepared, and it's a shame. We had activities planned, and it would have been great to do more," adding, "What difference does preparing make? Once I return, there will be no more separation from the fans. I'll do my best until I leave and give my all until the end."