Earlier in May, today’s hottest K-Pop boy band, EXO released their latest mini album, “Overdose”, and even performed for their live comeback showcase together as 12 members. Following their comeback showcase, the group divided into EXO-K & EXO-M once again to promote their songs simultaneously in both Korea and China. It was all smooth sailing; everything had gone according to plan until fans noticed EXO-M returning to Korea without their leader, Kris. The next thing they knew, Kris filed a contract termination lawsuit against his record label, SM Entertainment, and left fans puzzled and disappointed.

Earlier, we wrote about this incident and shared some thoughts as we’ve seen similar happenings in the K-Pop industry. So the leader left, what’s next for Kris, the remaining 11 members and the fandom?

For nearly two decades, SM Entertainment has been known for producing some of the world’s top K-Pop groups and EXO is definitely one of the most successful groups they’ve produced. Within 2 years, EXO has won countless awards and achieved stellar album sales in large part due to their huge fan base from all over the world. Thus, it came as no surprise when SM Entertainment decided that it was time for their debut concert tour “EXO FROM EXOPLANET #1 – THE LOST PLANET” in April 2014. The tickets were reportedly sold out in less than two seconds, once again showing the incredible support from the fans. SM Entertainment then added another date to EXO’s first solo concert due to high demand from fans.

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So, what does that mean? The sold-out shows has shown the huge amount of dedicated fans that will go to great lengths to support their favourite group. The fan culture rooted from SM Entertainment’s genuine marketing skills has helped EXO in becoming a successful K-Pop group today. The company caters to the fans’ needs by selling albums and merchandises as well as having them appear on variety shows or reality shows to display the members’ unique personalities.

The effort of “collecting fans” for EXO was made even before their debut as the members displayed their individual skills in their teaser videos. Fan culture is the key to success in most idol groups today. However, this controversy brought out the worst of fan culture but also united more fans to support the remaining 11 members of EXO as “one”. Some fans were prompted to leave the fandom along with Kris’s departure from EXO while the rest of the fans decided to show more love and support, especially during their first solo concert. Various slogans were given out before the concert for fans to hold up during some of the performances while the stadium became a beautiful silver ocean with fans holding up light sticks and chanting for them.

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With the amazing fan support, the 11 members were more than grateful and expressed their gratitude to everyone including the company’s founder, Lee Soo Man, their label mates, families and friends. Throughout their first solo concert, EXO proved that they can perform well enough without Kris even though they had to work harder with the rearrangements which had to be done within a week.

At the end of the show, some members were seen holding back their tears while they emphasised that “the beginning of EXO is now”. 2 years after their debut – and it is indeed a new beginning for EXO with Kris’s absence. EXO remained united as 11 members and will continue their Lost Planet Tour in other parts of the world including Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan and Philippines.  Some members attended to their solo activities and they will be recording HunanTV’s Happy Camp on 11th June without Kris for the first time since their appearance on the show a year ago.

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As for Kris, he has yet to release any official statements to the media regarding the lawsuit but it seems like he has got everything covered after he left the group. Earlier, it was rumoured that a famous Chinese writer and film director has offered a movie role to Kris for “Tiny Times 3” but later rejected by SM Entertainment. On June 4th, EXO’s Kris updated his Weibo account and posted three sun emoticons on a post tagged by Guo Jing Ming. The post further accumulated speculations that Guo could be offering him another role and wanted him to be part of the production.

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Recently, Sina News reported that the former EXO-M leader have accepted a role in a romance film “Somewhere Only We Know” with Chinese actress and film director, Xu Jinglei. The film production recently began in Prague, Czech Republic. A Weibo user named “VioletDream” recently posted a photo of Kris at Moscow Airport travelling to Prague together with Calvin Chen, a member of Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit.

The photo was later deleted. This one:

Source: Weibo
Source: Weibo

According to the clues given by netizens, Sina reported that the main casts of the film are Wu Yi Fan (Kris’s Chinese name) Wang Li Kun,  Juck Zhang, and Reyizha Alimjan. A foreign cast and Xu Jinglei herself will also be starring in the film. An insider revealed that Kris was wearing a black suit holding a cello, with his hair slicked back in a photo for the new film. The famous Chinese author and director, Wang Shuo, was commissioned to write the script for the film, whereas Xu Jinglei and two other editors will participate in the production as well.

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Regardless of how things will turn out, Kris’s departure left an impact in EXO’s career but also strengthened them to remain united. EXO-K’s leader Suho now bears the biggest responsibility to lead the group without Kris while the group deals with the shock of the loss. While the members feel betrayed by Kris’ departure, Kris still has the right to file the lawsuit and leave the company to pursue a better career for himself as well.

Our honest opinion? EXO and Kris still have a long way to go in their future and we truly hope that they are strong enough to face greater challenges in their career to achieve their goals.

Sources: Sina, NetizenBuzz, Billboard, KpopStarz.

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Adrina
Adrina was our former writer and now contributes to Hype. Find out what she's up to on her IG: @moonsglowslow.