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EXO’s Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen file for contract termination with SM Entertainment

In a recent development, three members of the K-pop group EXO, Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen, have filed for contract termination with SM Entertainment, a major entertainment agency in South Korea.

EXO is a South Korean-Chinese boy group that debuted in 2012 under the management of SM Entertainment. The group consists of nine members, Baekhyun, Chen, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, Lay, Sehun, Suho, and Xiumin, and quickly gained a massive following both in Korea and internationally. EXO’s unique blend of pop, hip-hop, and R&B has made them one of the most successful acts in the K-pop industry, with numerous chart-topping hits, sold-out concerts, and a legion of devoted fans called EXO-L.

What you need about EXO’s Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen’s contract termination case

EXO, Baekhyun, Chen, Xiumin
Image credit: Instagram/ @weareone.exo

On 1 June 2023, the members’ legal representative, Law Firm LIN, announced that they had submitted a notice of contract termination to SM Entertainment. The reason for this move is that the members have been requesting documentation detailing their earnings and payments from March through May, but SM Entertainment has refused to provide the information, citing confidentiality concerns. The three artists believe that there are problematic aspects of their earnings and have decided to exercise their rights as artists and demand transparency from the company.

This is not the first time SM Entertainment has been accused of unfair treatment of its artists. According to LIN, the agency has a history of forcing its artists to sign lengthy exclusive contracts of up to 12 to 13 years and recently demanded early renewal to extend contracts to at least 17 to 18 years. The artists claim that these ‘slave contracts’ are unfair and violate existing laws surrounding exclusive contracts in the entertainment industry. Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen have chosen to pursue legal action against the company to act as advocates for other artists under similar binding contracts.

Back in 2014, former members Luhan and Tao filed for contract termination, citing similar issues with the agency’s management practices. Luhan and Tao claimed that SM Entertainment had exploited them and violated their basic rights as artists, including their health, privacy, and creative freedom. They also accused the agency of unfair profit distribution, unequal treatment, and neglect of their Chinese members.

Luhan and Tao’s departure from EXO was a significant blow to the group and its fans, who were saddened by the loss of two talented and beloved members. Their legal battle with SM Entertainment also shed light on the darker side of the K-pop industry, where artists often face intense pressure, exploitation, and mistreatment in the pursuit of fame and fortune.

Despite the challenges, Luhan and Tao’s courage to stand up against their agency and fight for their rights inspired many fans and fellow artists to speak out against unfair practices and demand change in the industry.

The recent move by Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen to file for contract termination with SM Entertainment highlights the ongoing struggle for fair treatment of artists in the K-pop industry and beyond. Like Luhan and Tao, Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen have expressed their concerns over the lack of transparency and accountability in their earnings and contracts, and their desire for more control over their careers.

Their decision to take legal action against the company shows the increasing awareness and demand for better working conditions, greater artistic freedom, and fair compensation for artists in the entertainment industry.

The decision to terminate their contracts is a significant one, considering the popularity and success of EXO and the impact it could have on the K-pop industry. It remains to be seen how SM Entertainment will respond to this move and what the future holds for the three EXO members. However, this move could potentially lead to significant changes in the way contracts are structured and enforced.

Stay tuned for more updates on the case.

Hero and feature images: Courtesy Billboard

EXO’s Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen file for contract termination with SM Entertainment

Melissa Foong

Senior Digital Writer

Born and raised in the beautiful city of Kuala Lumpur, Melissa loves writing all things fashion, beauty and dining-related. She has written for BURO 24/7 and Augustman, and when she's not busy chasing deadlines, you can find her tucked in a blanket rereading her favourite series of fantasy novels, Harry Potter.

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