EXO and EXO-L recently celebrated their 10th anniversary but the attention was once again drawn to the departure of the last Chinese member – Lay from their agency, SM Ent.
EXO is one of the top boy groups of K-pop’s 3rd generation. EXO debuted with 12 members, including the 4 Chinese members Lay (Zhang Yixing), Kris (Wu Yifan), Tao (Huang Zitao), and Luhan. However, EXO faced many hard times because of these members during its whole active time.
On the morning of April 8th, 2022, EXO-Ls (EXO’s fandom) excitingly celebrated EXO’s 10th debut anniversary. However, they were not able to enjoy the special to the fullest due to the sudden announcement of Lay’s departure from SM Entertainment.
In particular, Lay wrote a long letter and posted it on his own SNS account, saying, “Ten years of growth. Thank you all. Thank you to my EXO brothers for your company and encouragement. Thanks to my colleagues at SM for witnessing every step of my growth and achievement. Thank you to all my fans for your unconditional love and support. It’s time to say goodbye as an employee of SM. It’s also my new beginning as a 30-year-old. But I will always be the Lay when my members need me. I’m your family member in China, Zhang Yixing. Love you forever.”
Fans already expected that Lay would leave SM Entertainment one day from long ago. It is because the male idol has only been carrying out activities in China for this whole time. However, the fact that Lay chose to announce the news on the exact day of EXO’s 10th debut anniversary prevented EXO-L from enjoying the happiness of this special day. Some got angry, pointing out that Lay was trying to gain attention.
Recalling EXO’s debut days, the boy group had also struggled a lot with the other 3 Chinese members. Despite being called “SM’s bias” right after their debut, it took EXO more than a year to prove their presence in the K-pop industry.
As soon as EXO reached its heyday, Kris announced his withdrawal from SM Entertainment right before EXO’s first concert was held. At that time, Kris was in charge of the leader of EXO’s unit – EXO-M. This sudden crisis turned EXO’s first concert into a sea of tears, but the members still tried their best to perform. Not stopping there, Kris filed a lawsuit against SM on May 15th, 2014, pointing out SM’s unfair profit distribution and excessive working hours.
Not only Kris, Luhan and Tao also left EXO, which was still a rising rookie group at that time, one after another. In particular, 5 months after Kris’s departure, Luhan also followed his leader. He filed a lawsuit against SM to terminate his exclusive contract with the company. After returning to China, he carried out activities on his own.
After many years of leaving the group without any action, today, April 8, Luhan’s office in China suddenly posted a video celebrating 10 years of debut with the content: “Hello. I’m Luhan from EXO“. This made fans extremely angry, thinking that he was creating attention at a crucial time. Some fans even said frankly: “Oh my friend, you are really the lord of fame, the king of commemoration, the leader of the land of memories”.
Following in the footsteps of Luhan and Kris, Tao also left the group a year later. Like the two “doves” that flew away before, the male idol also went through a noisy lawsuit with SM Entertainment. It can be said that every time a member leaves, EXO is faced with a large-scale internal fandom controversy.
Not only the 4 “doves”, some Korean members of the group are also entangled in bad noise, reducing EXO’s image in the public eye. In 2014, K-pop was shaken by the news that Baekhyun was dating senior Taeyeon. Immediately after, a wave of criticism and boycott of fans of both sides quickly broke out. It was not until the couple broke up that the noise gradually subsided.
Kai also received a lot of criticism when he was repeatedly released evidence of dating female idols like Krystal (f(x)), Jennie (BLACKPINK). The climax was when Chen announced he had a child and married a girlfriend outside the industry. This caused many of his fansites to close down, asking SM Entertainment to let Chen leave the group. The fans even indignantly said, “You are responsible for the person you love, but you don’t care about the feelings of those who love you”.
Over 10 years of operation, EXO has achieved many outstanding achievements. However, the group also many times made fans controversial and disappointed by the group members themselves.