EXO’s Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen move to terminate contracts with SM Entertainment – reports

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 1) — Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen of the K-pop group EXO are reportedly leaving and suing SM Entertainment over issues with the agency, including on “unjust” long-term exclusive contracts.

Korean news outlets reported on Thursday that the artists have notified SM Entertainment of their decision to terminate their contracts as of June 1 after they were asked to sign an agreement that would have them exclusively work for the company far longer.

“As if a 12 to 13-year-long contract period is not enough for them, SM is trying to claim a contract period of at least 17 to 18 years by having the artists sign the subsequent exclusive contracts again,” K-pop news website Soompi quoted the three EXO members’ lawyer Lee Jae Hak as saying.

“This is SM repeatedly perpetrating extremely unjust use of power against their artists,” Lee’s statement further read.

He also said that the EXO members have repeatedly requested SM Entertainment for copies of settlement reports and settlement basis but that the latter allegedly refused to provide these.

The lawyer said that if the agency had accurately paid the settlement to the artists, there would have been no reason for them not to accede to the request.

"The fact that SM is unable to provide such settlement reports and settlement grounds is strong counter-evidence that SM did not properly pay the settlement to the artists. Thus, the artists plan to take all civil and criminal legal action including a lawsuit for settlement payment against SM in order to check the exact details of the settlement,” he was quoted as saying.

Meanwhile, Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen — through their law firm — apologized for causing concern to fans through the issue.

“As we try to speak up with our small voices regarding the unfairness we couldn’t speak of until now, we are actually very frightened and fearful of this moment right now,” they said.

The K-pop stars added that although legal action is inevitable, they will try to find the best way to resolve the dispute so as not to cause their supporters too much worry.

SM Entertainment has yet to issue a statement on the matter.

EXO debuted in 2012 with 12 members, with a few parting ways over the years.

Fans currently consider the group to have nine members — Baekhyun, Xiumin, Chen, Suho, D.O., Chanyeol, Kai, Sehun, and Lay – although the EXO profile on SM’s website now only lists eight, excluding Lay. This was after Lay announced leaving SM Entertainment during the group's 10th anniversary last year.

Less than a month ago, Kai enlisted for his mandatory military service.