February 9, 2017
When the head of SM Entertainment allowed him to enlist in the army, he meant it. The next day Park Chanyeol received an official stamped letter from the Military Manpower Administration requiring him to report to basic training at Nonsan and to serve for a period of 21 months in active duty. The news appeared on every major broadcasting station in Asia opaquing Big Bang’s joint enlistment. In the Philippines, fans declared a national day of prayer. In Japan, Park Chanyeol held five fan meetings. He received letters, chocolates, hugs and precious tears from his fans. He didn’t want to make his fans sad so he tried his best to smile at each event. In Hong Kong, he held a special farewell concert with EXO-M. When he sang his last song, he poured tears because he couldn’t hold back his sadness any longer.
Park Chanyeol then returned back to Korea and participated in three variety shows including the final episode of Running Man as a special guest star. Lee Kwang Soo joked that his army stint happened before the show and that now that the Running Man was officially ending that he should enlist again with him. For a brief moment, Chanyeol brightened with a laugh and a smile.
But this smile was shortlived, it turned bittersweet when he said his final farewell on Naver. Chanyeol appeared on a live stream with Baekhyun singing Stay with Me from the drama Goblin. He was surrounded by his mother, father and sister at his family’s Italian restaurant. After eating pizza on live television, Park Chanyeol thanked his fans, family, EXO and SM Entertainment for supporting him and he asked all of his followers to stay healthy while they waited for him.
The next day he traveled on a camouflaged jeep to Nonsan dressed down casually in a black t-shirt, stretch blue jeans and leather boots. His bandmates, Suho, Xiumin, Lay, Baekhyun, Chen, D.O, Kai and Sehun waved at the crowd at training camp.
“You should have waited till you neared thirty like me,” Baekhyun whispered as they both waved to the crowd.
Park Chanyeol nodded. He took off his baseball cap revealing a cropped hair cut. The crowd roared.
“Be safe!” D.O. called out.
Park Chanyeol thought about his group and how he would surely miss them. As he stepped down from the scaffold, a newsperson interrupted him and told him that his enlistment was televised live in six different languages to 30 different countries. He asked him how it felt to enlist at a young age and Park Chanyeol answered sincerely: “I’m doing my duty for my country. I feel proud to be in the army.” He took a deep solemn bow as if he were a solider in the royal Joseon guard. The crowd applauded. Chanyeol turned towards the new recruits and followed them underneath the brick arches of the training camp walls. From a far, he spotted Junsu’s blond streaked hair. Junsu walked among the soldiers quietly. He wished he had taken that same path during enlistment day. Chanyeol looked up at the clouded sky. He was alone among a crowd of strangers until he heard a familiar voice.
“I heard you need to give up your sunglasses. Do you think that they will let me use them if I tell them that their prescriptive?” Choi Seunghyun asked. “A future conscripted policeman in