[Before reading, please understand that this is my look on the outside looking into this ongoing situation. This is clearly my opinion.]
While I had been sitting on seriously making a blog for a week, when SM Entertainment put out a statement about EXO’s Tao’s situation concerning him and EXO and how they haven’t come a decision, this was one of the first things I wanted to talk about. [This is in reference to TAO being on a hiatus and is in America studying and getting treatment for his ongoing injuries.]
This year, I’ve become a member of EXO-L (EXO’s club). And quite honestly, I’ve known about EXO since their debut but didn’t realize or remember who they were. I heard EXO-K’s song “What is Love” via review of Eat Your Kimchi. I thought the song was pretty good and then I moved on. If you asked me over a year ago, “what was going on in the KPOP world as far as news?”, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much. But if something reached my ears back then, that meant a LOT of people had to be talking about it.
Again, EXO came into my field of vision because of the lawsuits Kris and Luhan had with SME and their counter suit towards the members and their companies. If you didn’t know, EXO is a twelve member group, split into EXO-K and EXO-M. EXO-K is more so promotions within Korea and M is for China (songs are in the respective languages of course and both sides come together to perform as a whole). Last year, Kris and Luhan, members of EXO-M (two out of the four Chinese members in the group [spoiler: there are two Korean members in the Chinese unit]), sued to get out of their contracts due to health issues, poor treatment, and discrimination.
Now I can’t actually say that Luhan and Kris are no longer members of EXO because the lawsuit is still going on. Yes, they left the group, but until their contracts are officially dissolved, well, they’re technically still members of EXO. (I’ll talk more about that situation in another post).
If you’re new to the KPOP world, let me let you in a secret: SME is known for not treating their idols well. I don’t think this is something SM is willing to admit. To me, I feel that SM out of the BIG THREE (YG, JYP, SM), is the easy way to enter the entertainment business. You don’t have to be amazingly great, but with training (like all companies do, unless you’re that damn good), you’ll debut and bam, you’ve obtained your dream. But just because it’s the easy path, doesn’t mean that it’s the most ideal. And since when is easy actually easy? SM pushes their idols far past their limits and sadly, uses them as cash cows. I think of SM in the same light as teaching: you do a lot, the pay isn’t great, but if this is your passion, you’ll endure it because you’re doing what you love.
If idols are hurt, they’re expected to brush it off and keep going without proper treatment. If they’re ill (let’s say more than a common cold), they’re expected to go on stage and perform. Now, I know that there’s a mentality of putting your fans first and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re doing what you love, there’s a natural action to do that. But there’s a time and a place. And if the people who are your fans are truly your fans, they would be understanding of why you didn’t show up to a fan signing or meeting because you had a bad case of the flu.
People within the analogy to cars, maintenance and repairs, you’ll be able to last. And since people are not quite like cars, it’s plainly said that you need to take care of yourself. I don’t believe SM thinks this way. They’ll push idols past their endurance limits, not allowing them to get proper treatment for their injuries and mishaps, so as a result: they’re more susceptible to break down easily. It’s a mentality of “oh, I’ll fix that later” and you never do.
Now, I feel like I need to say this, but I know that SM isn’t the only company that runs into issues with their idols. (And of course, this post is entirely my opinion of someone on the outside looking in.) But I do honestly feel like most of the time if there’s an issue between a person and their company, SM Entertainment is the name I hear the most. It’s not a once in a while occurrence either; this happens often. But if the repeated reason why someone wants to sue out of their contact is because of health issues, poor care, and mistreatment, why would you not do something about it? If you keep your idols happy (and I’m not saying let them get away with everything), you can be happy with your cash flow and more importantly, your appearance to others. But it seems to me that the value of money is too high for the necessities to care. And I have also notice that SM will play the betrayal card the moment someone speaks about the issue at hand.
This is something that concerns me and need to be fixed. You can even say it’s a plea of sorts. SM, please take care of your idols. Please listen to their concerns if they bring them up to you. Please understand their concerns from their point of view, but keep your point of view in mind. I would honestly love to hear more positive information from your company versus all the negative that has been going on for more than a year now. If there is a problem, please fix it and do not ignore it. Your idols trust you and without you, couldn’t have gotten this far. But there is great success in communication and problem solving. Ignoring the elephant in the room helps no one and damages everyone.