EXO trio refutes SM’s claim over attempts for double contracts

June 2, 2023

Three members of K-pop boy band EXO on Friday refuted SM Entertainment’s claim that they attempted to sign double contracts with another agency, in the latest tit-for-tat dispute over their contract.

Baekhyun, Chen and Xiumin said through their lawyer Thursday they have notified SM of their decision to terminate their exclusive contracts with the agency over its “unfairly long-term” contracts and opaque handling of their financial settlement materials.

SM defended that its contracts with the singers were renewed in a valid manner and it had provided access to settlement materials, claiming “outside forces” were enticing them to sign a double contract with a new one.

Chen (L), Baekhyun (C) and Xiumin of K-pop boy group EXO are seen in this photo provided by SM Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)
Chen (L), Baekhyun (C) and Xiumin of K-pop boy group EXO are seen in this photo provided by SM Entertainment. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

In their statement released through legal representatives, the trio accused SM of making the false claim of external interference to avoid the essence of the issue and manipulate public opinion.

“Baekhyun, Chen and Xiumin have not entered into or attempted any other exclusive contracts besides the existing ones with SM,” the statement said. “The artists made requests for financial settlement based on their own decisions and were not influenced by any external forces.”

Regarding SM’s claim that they have provided access to financial documents, the members argued that there is “a significant difference” between providing copies of them and allowing mere viewing.

“Denying document provision is the core issue behind the termination notice, as it violates the artists’ fundamental rights,” it noted.

They claimed the contract terms had a clause that automatically extends the artists’ contract period until they release a certain amount of albums, calling it a “slave contract.”

Even if they terminate the exclusive contract with SM, the trio said they will explore ways to continue group activities with other EXO members regardless of legal issues.

EXO originally debuted as a 12-member group in 2012 under SM Entertainment and has since enjoyed Asianwide popularity with such hit songs as “Wolf” and “Growl.” But it was reduced to be a nine-piece group following the departure of three Chinese members — Luhan, Kris and Tao.

The group’s last remaining Chinese member Lay terminated his contract with SM in April last year.

EXO has been preparing to drop a new album involving all its current members this year. The plan, however, became unclear with the three more members’ alleged termination of their contracts with the agency.