EXO's Chen, Baekhyun, Xiumin notify SM Entertainment of contract termination


Posted at Jun 01 2023 10:23 AM | Updated as of Jun 01 2023 06:07 PM

 Scene from the music video of EXO-CBX's single 'Blooming Day,' released in 2018. Screengrab from video on SM Entertainment's official YouTube channel
Scene from the music video of EXO-CBX's single 'Blooming Day,' released in 2018. Screengrab from video on SM Entertainment's official YouTube channel

(UPDATE) Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin of K-pop boy band EXO have notified SM Entertainment that they are terminating their contracts with the label, which they accused of "unfair abuse of power," according to reports.

The move was made known on Thursday through a statement from lawyer Lee Jae-hak, who represents the three artists, news agency Yonhap reported.

The K-pop stars want to leave SM, one of South Korea's leading music labels, because of the company's practice of imposing "unfairly long-term" contracts and unclear handling of earnings, based on the Yonhap report.

"SM not only required its artists to sign long-term contracts lasting 12 to 13 years but also made them renew their contracts upon expiration, effectively prolonging their contractual obligations for a period of 17 to 18 years," the members said in a statement through Lee, as per Yonhap.

"This constitutes a highly unfair abuse of power by SM toward its artists," they added.

South Korea's Fair Trade Commission limits the contract period of entertainment workers to only seven years. Prior to that, talent agencies often enforced decades-long contracts, dubbed "slave contracts."

The idols reportedly claimed that SM never provided them with papers on how their payments were calculated. The agency also refused to provide an explanation even after the three members requested seven times this year.

The statement concluded with Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin apologizing to their fans and vowing to find a "wise" manner to resolve the issue.

In response, SM refuted the allegations regarding contract duration and profits, Yonhap reported.

The label claimed "outside forces" were enticing the three artists to ignore their contracts with the agency to sign with a new company.

The company also reportedly vowed to take legal measures against any illegal act.

This is the latest incident wherein SM was embroiled in a contractual dispute with its artists.

In 2009, three former members of boy band TVXQ sued the company over contracts that required them to stay with the agency for 13 years.

EXO also had three Chinese members who left the group and SM in 2014 and 2015, claiming mistreatment and engaging in a legal battle with the label.

Chen, Baekhyun and Xiumin debuted in EXO, a nine-member act known for songs like "Ko Ko Bop" and "Love Shot," in 2012.

The trio also make up the sub-unit EXO-CBX, which was launched in 2016.

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