The real reason why EXO’s Kris, Luhan and Tao left SM


In 2014, EXO's Chinese member Kris filed a lawsuit against SM entertainment, insisting that his exclusive contract with the agency should be nullified. And he finally left the agency, while another Chinese EXO member Luhan also filed a lawsuit against SM in the year. And in 2015, Tao decided to leave the agency too. After filing lawsuits, they said “SM didn't respect us at all. SM has treated us like subjects of control and determined our schedules unilaterally. And we had economic difficulties despite much work.”


Well, I think many of k-pop fans may consider unfair contract between SM and the Chinese members as the main reason why the idol singers filed lawsuits. You know, it was not the first time that SM’s idol singer filed a lawsuit against the agency. The former TVXQ members Kim Junsu, Park Yoochun and Kim Jaejoong had been in a legal battle with SM for about 3 years, while Hangeng of Super Junior has also filed a lawsuit against SM, insisting that his contract with the agency should be nullified.

But, nobody in the k-pop world swallow everything the three Chinese EXO members said. Do you know why?


Of course, it’s true that there were some problems regarding the Chinese members’ contracts with SM because the contract year was too long, while it might have been unacceptable for them to share their profits with the agency and the other EXO members.

However, it’s not just the problem of SM, while the agency began to use the standard form of contract since the Fair Trade Commission made it mandatory for k-pop agencies to use it in 2009, and it is now regarded as the k-pop agency which offers relatively advantageous terms to its artists. For example, idols should pay back their agency's investment because k-pop agencies invest hundreds of millions of won in training and promoting their idols. However, idol singers in SM don’t need to do it, which means they can earn more money than idol singers of other k-pop agencies. That’s why many idol singers envy of SM’s idols. In this situation, Kris, Luhan and Tao, who have gained a lot of popularity in Korea had economic difficulties and wanted to leave EXO and SM just because their contracts with the agency was unfair? I don’t think so. What they tried to do was just to use the loophole in the contract.


EXO has been popular not only in Korea but also in China. And after the group became very popular in China, not a few Chines agencies approached the Chinese members with exceptionally good offers because from the point of the view of Chinese agencies, working with them should be a highly profitable business. Kris, Luhan and Tao are Chinese, and of course they’re proficient in Chinese, which means they don’t have any problems with being active in the Chinese entertainment world.

And actually, there was a broker who connected Chinese agencies to the EXO members. The broker tempted them to leave EXO and SM, saying that they’re going to be able to make much more money in China. Well, he wasn’t lying because the country has a huge market and there were so many fans who wanted to see the members close. In addition, if the three members leave EXO and are active in China as solo artists, they don’t need to share their profits with the other EXO members any more. In fact, Kris, Luhan and Tao have earned lots of money after leaving SM, while it costed a great deal of money to go through a court battle with SM but their rich Chinese agencies paid for it without hesitation because they thought it was just an initial investment.



Well, just like the other idols, the three members were trained by their agency for years, and they’re certainly benefited from the systematic training system of the k-pop industry. They were important assets to the k-pop industry. However, soon after becoming popular, they decided to leave their agency and went to China in search of fame and fortune. Many people in the k-pop industry are now worrying that Chinese agencies will continuously lure talented k-pop idol stars away from Korea because not a few k-pop idol groups have their Chinese members these days.