Editorial

Was EXO Kris planning a solo debut? Why did he file the lawsuit?

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OPINION: Last Thursday, EXO-M leader Kris shocked the whole K-pop industry when he filed a lawsuit against his agency, SM Entertainment.

What was surprising was that the fact that EXO was one of, or if not, the most popular group to have debuted in recent years. EXO released its debut album “XOXO” last year and it went on to sell more than 1 million copies. Their latest mini-album ‘Overdose’ was released on May 7 and recorded 660,000 pre-orders. It also went on to sell over 230,000 copies in just five days after it was released.

This begs the question: Why did Kris file a lawsuit just eight days after their mini-album release? Did he time this lawsuit?

Many K-pop critics were surprised at the fact that Kris was filing for a lawsuit at the peak at his career. EXO sold millions of albums and are only about to headline their first solo concert this week, why now when it’s all just beginning?

You might remember a few years ago when Chinese Super Junior member, Han Geng filed a lawsuit against SM in 2009.

Han Geng’s lawyers alleged that his 13-year long contract with SME was unlawful and the profits made from Super Junior’s successful albums and singles were not fairly distributed among the members. A statement released by Han Geng’s team at the time said that the singer was forced to do things against his own will, fined when he disobeyed the company, was refused sick days off when he developed gastritis and kidney problems.

Now, this is all starting to sound a lot like what Kris is alleging against SM.

In the lawsuit, Kris claimed that his label never considered or respected his opinion and health when scheduling for the group’s promotional activities in South Korea and China.

“The company has treated me like a machine part or as an object of control rather than presenting a vision as an entertainer,” the 24-year-old singer was quoted as saying.

An un-named source also revealed that Kris had financial difficulties despite the group’s success in Asia.

“Over the distribution of profit, SM only showed him a self-made bill without any further detailed explanation. … This forced (him) into constant financial difficulties despite an overload of work and activities,” the source was cited as saying.

Kris filed a lawsuit against SM on May 15, eight days after EXO released their mini-album.

Kris filed a lawsuit against SM on May 15, eight days after EXO released their mini-album.

No one knows exactly why Kris has chosen to file a lawsuit against SM just two years after he debuted. But the timing of the lawsuit, eight days after EXO’s mini-album release is questionable.

It is a fact that SM Entertainment has had some high profile lawsuits against its treatment towards its artists (e.g. Han Geng and JYJ) and I would definitely encourage Kris to stand up to his agency ASAP if he was being mistreated. But I think this whole lawsuit was smartly timed out by Kris and his legal team.

Han Geng, who was also Chinese, is now enjoying more success in China since his departure from Super Junior and SM. Now an actor and singer, he is said to be earning more than he did when he was signed under SM Entertainment.

The fact that Kris filed this lawsuit right after the release of EXO’s mini-album could be a move to solidify his stardom before he left the group and pursued his own activities without SM and their resources.

Kris must’ve studied Han Geng’s case very closely as his lawsuit is almost identical to what happened to Han Geng (he also hired Han Geng’s legal team to represent him) and if this was the case then the court would most definitely rule in his favour. Like Han Geng, Kris could enjoy a more financial rewarding and better standards as a solo act, rather than in a group.

His fellow members has criticised him and called his actions a ‘betrayal of trust,’ perhaps the members were referring to Kris wanting to part ways with the group and pursue a solo career?

But in conclusion, Kris’s camp have already vowed to keep this case as quiet as they can, so our questions and assumptions may not be answered for some time. I hope I am wrong about Kris wanting to pursue a solo career like Han Geng and that he is able to work something out with SM. Time will only tell.

Why do you think EXO members are so upset with Kris? Is Kris planning to pursue a solo career?

The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author on this piece do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of hellokpop.

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