Following up with Z.TAO’s Sina interview that said he had left EXO back in April, which SM covered up as him “going to the states to rest and study” (that could have been true and the decision to leave came after), to make it official, it was announced on August 24th that he is suing SM Entertainment to dissolve his contract. And it’s no surprise he enlisted same legal team ex-members Kris (Wu Yifan) and Luhan are using. It only provides some reassurance to be using the same lawyer that helped previous member of Super Junior M, Han Geng, to win his case. What rains on this parade is, well, Kris and Luhan are still in a stalemate due to SM’s lack of wanting to resolve the matter quickly. And even for the two of them, when the end seemed near, SM decided to become a child with a tantrum screaming ‘no, no, no’ instead of an adult to come together to talk and resolve the problem at hand.
SM Entertainment seems to be a very passive and only ‘react when we need to’ sort of company. They can’t say they were unaware of TAO’s status. They could have, in fact, sued him first. A representative in their company had the time to contact YouTube about Z.TAO’s song and video. His song, T.A.O., was found as a violation of a copyright and the video taken town. The company could have sued the ex-member right then and there for promoting, producing, and releasing an album and MV without permission or rights because he is still under their contract. Their statement even said they were are planning to take action.
Our company plans to use everything in our power including both Korean and Chinese legal professionals and partners to respond legally both in Korea and China in a multi-faceted manner. We also plan to take legal steps to respond to Tao’s illegal promotions and actions.
Plan to? You could have taken action before this happened. And that statement came out mighty fast after TAO’s announcement. (Excuse me as I chuckle because when I first read the statement, I read ‘multi-faceted’ as ‘multi-faced’.)
It’s a bit amusing to me that the actions SM has taken so far is to get rid of stock. I sense the “making like he doesn’t exist”, just as they did to Kris and even Jessica from SNSD. (Ever noticed how Kris isn’t even listed on the EXO-M FB page, but Luhan and TAO are?) Fans have been receiving TAO’s picture cards in non-EXO albums. But again, if they knew all of this, why didn’t they do the same with the paper dolls released around the time of the Love Me Right promotions? One could fight the ‘well it wasn’t official that he left EXO then’, thus they could sell it. But on SM’s side, they still haven’t announced TAO’s departure…just that they plan on retaliating against him. Not to mention, did they think that no one would notice an additional card came with the album? Or even better, the recipient wouldn’t have noticed a card of a member who didn’t even belong to the group of said album? Who are you fooling here SM? No one but yourself.
One thing I had questioned before was the album. For some time, nor Kris or Luhan talked about music that didn’t have to do with an OST or a movie. There has been glimpses here and there them looking to start music careers again, but soon after TAO exits EXO, an album is dropped with a music video to accompany it. Perhaps he felt it was the only he could express himself. His lyrics are laced with true feelings and issues he faced and will face in the future. It could be a case of, ‘I know this is wrong, but I’m going to do it anyway because the world needs to be informed’. If I’m not mistaken, he might have been the only one to boldly speak out about SM Entertainments and their conditions.
Now, Luhan has announced an album in the works and Kris has mentioned that one will be coming, according to his interview. They more than likely took a safer route, modeling and acting until it seemed safe enough to come out and work on music. Their junior seems to be doing the opposite. Because of this, the road going forward may get even trickier for TAO, in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if he loses his lawsuit case.
Too often, SM plays the betrayal card and ‘how dare you leave me when I’ve done everything for you’. It sounds like an awful relationship, abusive at best…or worst. But, in TAO’s case, it could legit be an issue of betrayal. I won’t give SM the ‘I’ve given you everything and this is what you do’ plea. What happened with TAO was an outcry for help. As mentioned in the Sina interview post, more harm than good rattled his body and the company can’t claim they didn’t know. It was a physical problem, unlike the two other ex-EXO-M members, who could be seen as lying since their problems weren’t visible. (Obviously, they weren’t lying.) SM knew he was injured, the public knew and saw his injures, and for lack of better words, the company clearly didn’t give a damn. “Just endure it and it’ll be over.” They repeatedly told him until he questioned, “When is going to be over? You said it would be over and I would get help months ago and still nothing.” And SM just replies with, “Once you do this, then we’ll do something about it.” Then that goes on for longer, until he couldn’t take it anymore. At that point, it could be seen as betrayal because SM kept edging on to keep doing this one last thing and it’ll be over. On the opposite end, SM took advantage of TAO and when someone retaliates against that, it’s not betrayal, it’s standing up for oneself.
I believe, like Kris who came before him, he went about it the wrong way. Kris up and left without a word and TAO did the same thing. Luhan said that he was leaving but it would be after promotions. That is what TAO should have done. Luhan has gotten more respect than any other the members that left because of one simple action.
To me, when it came to EXO’s Show Time, I always felt like Kris was isolated and picked on. TAO sort of was, but you could tell it was more playful than Kris. He showed a deep love and attachment to the group. Luhan was sort of neutral the entire time. But without knowing what happened with Kris’s situation completely, I considered that display of character in EXO’s Show Time to be the reason behind his departure. It ran true in some ways, but there as a deeper issue at hand. And now, that issue has had three out of the four Chinese members of EXO and EXO-M to leave to take up something better: to pursue happiness by becoming human again.
I plan on following this because I want to see how this pans out for all three members. Kris’s lawsuit has hit the one year mark (May 2014), while Luhan’s is approaching (October 2014). If going by SM’s previous record, there’s one more year to wait on. TAO is going to have some time to wait it out (August 2015) before his case even gets anywhere. Luhan and Kris seem to have achieved success after leaving and I really hope the same for TAO.
I did, in fact, order the Super Junior Devil album recently. If it has TAO’s card in it, I’ll be sure you let you know.