Thursday is officially the worst day of the week for EXO fans.

A week ago, Chinese media outlet iQiyi reported that Tao of EXO-M will be terminating his contract with his current talent agency, SM Entertainment. Several insiders close to Tao also confirmed his departure from the idol group.

However, the report was later denied by the company as the reps simply stated, “The Chinese media report from April 16 about EXO’s Tao canceling his contract (with SM) isn’t true.


EXO Tao - Exodus

This wasn’t the first time that Tao was rumoured to be leaving EXO.

Back in October 2014, an entertainment insider hinted at Tao’s departure from the group after former EXO-M member Luhan filed a lawsuit against SM Entertainment. The insider cited an airport incident as the reason for his departure.

In December 2014, Chinese media outlet Sina reported that Tao was planning to nullify his contract as both Lay and himself “have constantly been invited to return to China and sign on with a new entertainment agency”. At that time, many believed that the report could be an effort to stir up commotion among EXO fans as the group already announced their comeback at the 2014 Mnet Asia Music Awards (MAMA).

Image source: EXO-M’s official Facebook page

On 31st March 2015. EXO finally made their comeback as a 10-member idol group. At that time, Tao was still suffering from a leg injury, the one he has had since the filming of SBS “Laws of the Jungle” in July 2014.

In February 2015, he suffered from an ankle injury on MBC “Idol Sports Athletic Championship”. His condition worsened as the excessive rehearsals and dance practice sessions took a toll on his injury. It forced him to opt out of the group’s “Growl” performance during EXO’s 2nd solo concert and the group’s current “Call Me Baby” promotions.

On 22nd April, a man, who claimed that he is Tao’s father, created a Weibo account and posted a lengthy letter announcing his decision to bring his son back to his home in Qingdao.

Tao's Father Weibo Letter


In the letter, the man aplogised to his fans, the agency, and Tao for his decision to bring him home.

He explained:

Hello followers of Huang Zi Tao, I am his father.

My emotions are very complicated as I write this letter as I know that my decision will hurt many people, including my son Huang Zi Tao. Although I have thought very much about this, in his heart he may not understand and hate my selfishness. Throughout this whole journey I know how much he likes his group and perseveres in his work, so whether or not to have him leave Korea has become a difficult and painful decision for me…but as a father, I have the responsibility to make sure that he grows up happily and healthily and I cannot bear to see his health continue to deteriorate! Between his staying in Korea to be an idol and living healthily and in peace, I will choose the latter without hesitation.

In my eyes, strength, tenacity, resolution, and determination are the necessary characteristics of a man. Thus, we let him learn martial arts, taught him how to be get through tough times, and develop a hardworking attitude. We let him earn money to learn music and dance to let him become someone who can sustain himself. Since becoming a singer is his dream and his choice, he must work hard for his own dream and make the necessary sacrifices for his decisions.

Huang Zi Tao has never disappointed us; in making it this far, he has always been the pride of our family! But what has given me pause is – in these three years since his debut, he has gotten all sorts of injuries large and small. Back pains, body pains, leg pains, to the point that during each performance, whether I am physically there or at home, if he does a flip, I will be worried to no end, nervous that his old injuries will only worsen. This is especially true for overseas performances: sometimes the stage is slippery, sometimes it rains; before every performance I will be sure to tell him again that if the stage is wet, if it’s raining, if it seems unsafe, to not do the flip. But every time he says he does not want to disappoint everyone, comforting me by saying he will be careful. But in the end, I can only see through Weibo that he has injured himself again, it really hurts me! I can’t take care of him, sometimes I can’t contact him nor go to the performance, this burning pain is hard to describe with words, sitting at home clutching onto my phone to wait for any news, other people will never know.

In the eyes of others, I should be very happy, a full family, my son is an idol, but how will they know the number of sleepless nights spent worrying about my son? This time I will do whatever it takes to bring Zi Tao back to heal his wounds. The night I went to Korea, the company talked to me about Zi Tao’s future, saying that as promised from the start they would make a special team to enhance his performances, of course I was happy to hear all these details. The company said that after Zi Tao signed the agreement, they would announce it along with other members’. However, with only this final step missing, and myself in Korea, the company revealed the future plans for the other members…I wanted to say so much that I drew a blank.

Zi Tao did not get the company’s support, instead only returned with an injured body, in that case, what was all our perseverance from the start worth? I decided to bring Zi Tao home for treatment, only to get noticed that we missed the ideal treatment period. If these injuries do not properly heal it will be detrimental to his physical condition, just like how the last straw broke the camel’s back, this made me decide to bring him back. To parents, there is nothing more important than a child’s wellbeing. Compared to flowers, applause, and stage lights, his health and wellbeing will always be first on our hearts! Finally, we want to thank and apologize the company and his members: we want to thank the company for these three years of taking care of Zi Tao and his members’ support and care! At the same time I also want to apologize to all the fans of Huang Zi Tao and EXO, i know that my decision will hurt you all deeply but please understand this is what a father must do, I’m sorry!

Many questioned the legitimacy of the account, but it was shown that Tao has followed the account on Weibo as well, giving credence to the letter.

The letter became a trending topic on Weibo and Twitter last night, sparking speculations that Tao will be leaving the group very soon. Some speculated that Tao’s father decided to do so because Lay of EXO-M was given an individual workshop in China while his son was given nothing but injuries.

Tao's Father Weibo

In less than 24 hours, SM Entertainment responded to the matter. The company released a short statement, revealing their hopes to reach an agreement with the father.

The short statement as follows:

SM Entertainment will project its official position.

We would like to express our official position regarding the post made by Tao’s father on Weibo today.

We are currently in the process of continuously discussing the various activities for Tao in China with Tao and his father, it’s unfortunate that Tao’s father would post such an article. Nevertheless, through discussions with Tao’s father, we hope to explore his [Tao’s] developmental direction [to find a solution through a constructive way].

UPDATE (23rd April, 2:39PM):

According to Koreaboo, Tao’s father told Sina in a recent interview that his son has allegedly “agreed” to leave EXO out of filial piety.

He added, “His treatment is going to be priority and everything else is up to Tao to decide.

Tao - Sina - Filial Peity
Source: Sina

In the interview, he stated he wants Tao to be let go due to his health and peace of mind.

He added:

In the 3 years since his debut he attended many programs that put his health at risk. The company did not properly take care of his injuries and that pained my heart. When last I visited Korea and tried to bring Tao with me to give him proper care the company suddenly said, “Let’s talk about Tao’s future“. During that process they talked about his private workshop and I was ecstatic that they were finally acknowledging his hard work. But that in the end never happened. It pains me that a decision for him to leave has been made. Tao loves music and his team he never held any grudge against the company when proper care wasn’t given to his injury. As a father I can no longer watch my son go up on stage with injuries.

Meanwhile, a representative from SM Entertainment told Korean media outlet OSEN that EXO will continue to carry out their music show broadcast this week, including KBS’ “Music Bank”, MBC’s “Show! Music Core”, and SBS’ “Inkigayo”.

No further details regarding the report were revealed yet, but do you think Tao’s father will file a lawsuit against the company, on behalf on his son? What will become of Tao’s future? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.

Sources: Koreaboo (1) (2) (3), Sina, Soompi

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