Legal disputes continue between S.M. and ex-EXO members in China

Ex-members of boy band EXO Luhan (left), Kris (center) and Tao.
PHOTO: Luhan/ Facebook, SM Town Weibo, Lianhe Zaobao

S.M. Entertainment is continuing its legal battles with K-pop artists Kris, Luhan and Tao.

The agency asserts the current entertainment activities of the three ex-EXO members in China violated their exclusive contracts with S.M.

EXO, a boy group consisting of both Chinese and Korean members, has been continuing as a nine-member team since Kris and Luhan left the group in 2014 and Tao followed suit the following year.

Kris and Luhan had lodged lawsuits against the nation's largest entertainment agency in 2014, seeking to nullify their contracts with the entertainment agency. Tao also parted with the company in August 2015.

Kris was quoted as saying in a local interview in 2014, "S.M. treated me as a commodity or someone to control. Also, the company's dealings with and distribution of profits are not transparent." He asserts that he was thus enmeshed in financial straits despite his very busy schedule. Kris also accused S.M. of neglecting his health issues when making schedules for EXO's concerts and events.

In January this year, S.M. won one of their countersuits against Tao. The agency had sued the former member for not repaying the company after leaving S.M. and breaching their exclusive contracts by engaging in individual promotions in China.

The agency had litigated 14 lawsuits against companies that organised the entertainment activities of Kris, Luhan and Tao after they left EXO. All the cases were officially drafted by the courts of the relevant Chinese regions as of last Friday.

S.M. Entertainment had announced, "Kris, Luhan and Tao remain artists of our agency until a legal verdict is reached. All their (entertainment) activities prior to the verdict are illegal."

This is not the first time S.M. Entertainment has been mired in a legal dispute with an artist. Han Geng, a former Chinese member of Super Junior, had also filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment in 2009 in order to terminate his contract with the agency. Han stated that the company had treated him in an unfair and excessively overbearing manner and denied him sick leave, which led him to suffer from kidney ailments. Han and S.M. Entertainment reached a mutual agreement in 2011. Han is currently working as a solo artist in China.

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