It’s EXO members and EXO-Ls vs. SM Entertainment all over again.
On June 1, 2023, EXO members Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin notified SM Entertainment of their move to terminate their exclusive contracts with the company through their legal rep and lawyer Lee Jae-Hak from law firm LIN.
The three EXO members, also comprising the sub-unit EXO-CBX, detailed their reasons for the termination of their contracts in a statement (as translated by Soompi).
According to this statement, the grounds for their contract termination were due to mistreatment and unfair contract terms from the agency.
SM Entertainment has refused to provide statements of EXO’s earnings since their debut, despite asking for these reports 7 times through their legal rep from March 21 till recently, maintaining the position that “such data cannot be shared.”
EXO (and all artists, in general) have the legal right to request transparency of their settlements, and SM Entertainment is legally obliged to comply according to their exclusive contracts and the Popular Culture and Arts Industry Development Act.
Another reason detailed in the statement is that SM Entertainment had pushed for “slave contracts” once again with the EXO members—their former contracts had spanned over 12 to 13 years, and their new contracts spanning to at least 17 to 18 years.
Towards the end of the statement, lawyer Lee Jae-hak included that while it is very difficult for EXO’s Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin to file this lawsuit against SM Entertainment, them doing so is also for other SM artists who share the same doubts as they do.
In response to EXO-CBX’s notice to terminate their contracts, SM Entertainment released a statement, detailing that “external forces” were behind the artists’ move for their contract termination.
South Korean news outlet Ilgan Sports also reported earlier that SM Entertainment had sent a certification of contents to Big Planet Made Entertainment (BPM Entertainment). In this report, BPM Entertainment was said to have approached Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin to sign with them.
BPM Entertainment also released its own statement refuting these claims by SM Entertainment.
SM Entertainment later on released another statement, this time countering the claims stated by Kim Jong-dae (Chen), Byun Baek-Hyun (Baekhyun), Kim Min-Seok (Xiumin), and their legal representative.
In their statement (as translated by Soompi), SM Entertainment said that “EXO is an artist we cherish greatly”, and that the three artists all signed the new exclusive contracts after carrying out negotiations without any issues.
With regards to the transparency of the settlement process that the EXO-CBX had stated, SM Entertainment detailed that the artists did not raise any issues regarding settlements, that the payments are carried out every month with the reports available for viewing any time, and that the artists were requesting for the copies for different purposes and as a reason to terminate their contracts.
And in terms of the legitimacy of the exclusive contracts, SM Entertainment said that their contracts were based on the Standard Exclusive Contract Form for Entertainment, their contract periods had been acknowledged by the Supreme Court, and these contracts were completed after discussing them in detail with a lawyer delegated by the members themselves.
SM Entertainment ended their statement by saying that they will take strong legal actions against “external forces” that try to “delude artists with unreasonable financial temptations, flattery, and groundless rumors[.]”
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