While the whereabouts of K-pop boy band EXO-M's Kris remains unknown, some music watchers reportedly claimed that the idol star had attempted to signal his intention to leave the group before he sued his agency, SM Entertainment.
"Kris has broken away from the team before, so the agency's staff and fellow members found it difficult to bear," one source told a local media outlet.
The Chinese-born-Canadian allegedly stayed abroad without joining the team for practice when the idol group was on a break.
Kim Hee-chul, a member of K-pop idol group Super Junior close to EXO, backed up the claims on a TV show, saying "Kris might have sent a signal. There were some cases within the group. For example, Kris unexpectedly disappeared from the stage or did not turn up to work when he was supposed to."
Kris is reportedly staying in China. SM officials claimed that they, too, have been unable to locate him.
Fellow members of EXO appeared to be upset about Kris' sudden move. EXO-K leader Suho was once quoted as saying, "We can't really understand Kris' actions. We all are confused and have mixed feelings about the matter." He also described Kris' action as "irresponsible."
A week has passed since Kris filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment to end his contract, accusing the nation's largest talent agency of exploitation and unfair treatment. There has been no sign of compromise between the two parties.
Kris expressed gratitude for his fans' support in a written letter uploaded on Weibo last week, shortly after the news about the suit broke, but he remained silent on the reason behind the abrupt decision to launch a legal battle.
EXO shot to stardom in South Korea and China after debuting in 2012. Its first full-length album "XOXO" and its repackaged version sold more than 1 million copies in total last year.
The group, which has 12 members, has been pursuing their activities in two subunits, EXO-K and EXO-M, to target the Korean and Chinese markets, respectively.
Meanwhile, the remaining 11 members will continue their activities as scheduled, including their first solo concert slated to be held on May 23-25 at Seoul Olympic Gymnastics Stadium.