EXO-M Without Kris

Did SM Entertainment Treat Kris & EXO-M Unfairly?

Unless you’ve been living in an underground bunker, you’ve probably been keeping up with all the drama surrounding SM Entertainment and EXO-M’s former member, Kris. Was Kris selfish, perhaps wanting to pursue a solo career in China? Did SM mistreat him, his health, and his career? Whether you’re #TeamKris or #TeamEXO, everyone seems to question what exactly made Kris leave the group and company. With recent news of Kris’ new movie deal in China, the former questions seem to arise anew.

So, did SM Entertainment really treat Kris or any of the other EXO-M members unfairly compared to their Korean counterparts? Let’s take a look…

EXO-M was destined from its inception to focus its promotions in China, while EXO-K promoted in Korea. Both groups debuted with Mama on the same day in their respective countries and had great success on various music charts. However, they promoted together as 12 members throughout 2013 with Wolf, Growl, and Miracles in December, but were mostly split again for Overdose this year.

They were derp-ishly adorable!

It is news to no one who follows K-Pop that EXO’s popularity is rarely matched. Fans loved them through the teaser videos to the pre-debut songs to Mama and beyond. Their drama, CF, music video appearances, movies, emcee, and radio and variety show gigs were distributed mostly evenly for EXO-M members in Korea. EXO-K solo member’s activities far outnumbered their Chinese members because, as I said before, they were the ones geared to promote in Korea, not EXO-M. SM Entertainment has more leverage within Korea, so it makes sense that EXO-K had better accessibility to activities.

But in order to get a better picture of how EXO-M’s appearances were distributed between the members, take a look at these infographs:

 [Disclaimer: Some appearances might be missing]

EXO-M Activities Chart

… And more specifically:

exo-m graphics

exo-m graphic

As you can see, Xiumin has the lead, but let’s not forget he has an upper hand on because of his fluency in Korean, due to the fact that he is, of course, one of EXO-M’s Korean member. On the other hand, the other Korean member, Chen, had more appearances than Kris, Lay, and Tao, but fell behind Luhan, a Chinese member. So, were these assigned fairly? Yes, considering lots of these were done with other M and K members in Korea.

Since those were individual appearances, let’s now take a look at the ones they did together as EXO-M:

exo-m appearances graph

The news about Kris terminating his contract with SM and thus leaving EXO broke in mid-May, a month after SM announced that Luhan would be starring in a Chinese movie. Among his alleged grievances for leaving the company, there was some mention of the EXO-M rapper wanting to pursue acting in China, and this request being denied by the company. Coincidentally, news broke yesterday that Kris will be working with Chinese director Guo Jingming on a “mysterious project.” Furthermore, news about Tao starring in Zhang Li Yin’s new music video with f(x)’s Victoria also broke today.

It seems the question about who’s really to blame – Kris being selfish or SM mistreating him– seem to confuse us more than clarify the issue. Was Kris jealous of Luhan for having acting roles? Is SM giving Tao minor acting roles to appease rumors of inequality among the members? Geez, this plot is better than any K-Drama I’m watching right now…

Whether Kris is in the right and SM in the wrong, like with Super Junior’s Hangeng and JYJ, or vice versa, one thing’s for sure: SM was not treating EXO-M’s appearances unfairly. They all seem to have had around the same number of gigs. As to why they weren’t as involved in China, I do not know, but SM is definitely trying to get the EXO-M guys out there more.

What’s your take on the whole SM vs. Kris debacle; who’s in the right? Share your thoughts with me, and let’s talk about it! Don’t forget to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, TwitterInstagram, Tumblr, and Bloglovin’ so you can keep up with all our posts.

  • Zelena

    Hi, exotic!! I’m an exotic too. I not either supporter of Kris or EXO or SM. I just wanna share my thought. I mean put yourself in Kris’ shoes. He gave up everything just to fulfill his dream. Although he had stated CLEARLY that he wish to go for acting if he had a chance. There’s a lot of rumor bout SM turn down all the offer that had given to Kris. How do you explain that? Side, what cause you to give up your dream that you had dream, you had work out for t really hard? Until the day you got debut, the happiness, the tears you had shared with your brothers/ members. I’m pretty sure they relationship is not fake, after all they had been through so much. Think again, why Kris wanna give up? Why?There must be some unpleasant reason behind there…

  • wutisdat

    i don’t think kris was jealous of luhan, i think he was mistreated by sm couse he had offers and they rejected them, also promotions in china was really half-assed, like in mama era they were alwas in china and in other countries and they were really good and fun but then went to korea and were pushed aside. when sm were promoting ot12 they favored exo k so obviosuly, and i get it they was ment to be in korea, but in the same time exo m was not promoting in china and that was original plan i think sm just felt like they don’t need to spend money on living in china couse they have established fanbase there and they just ride on chinese fangirls, and gave up promoting m to the general public. Anyway i think SM suck so hard in making exo m a chinese group, they are now korean gruop promoting in china just like suju m.

  • wutisdat

    oh and i dont like this question mark on kris face, like wtf?

    • Alexis Brigette Hodoyán-Gastél

      It was only meant to reflect the uncertainty of it all.

  • Amanda

    I think SM tries their best with EXO-M, but the truth is they’re a Korean company and that’s how the world will always see them. What they’re doing with EXO-M probably isn’t close to as good as it could be, and maybe that was reason enough for Kris to leave. It’s not necessarily unfair, but if an artist invests 4 years of training, they should expect the company to make it worth their time, whatever their definition of that may be.
    SM has put effort into EXO-M, but compared with the activities that EXO-K got, it’s really very little. Baekhyun and Suho have been MCs on Inkigayo for months, Chanyeol was the first on Law of the Jungle, he’s on Roommate, and he and Sehun had another drama appearance, and Kai was part of two documentaries, and Kyungsoo’s going to be in a movie and a drama, not to mention all the singing activities he’s gotten. Though EXO-M have had similar individual activities, it’s usually on a lesser scale, like how Kris was an MC for only a few weeks (and on a show directed at an English speaking audience, not Korean or Chinese). Plus SM really doesn’t seem to be breaking much ground in the Chinese market. It seems to me like every place EXO has appeared, Super Junior M was there first, so SM isn’t really branching out as far as new audiences go. China is huge, with tons of shows and entertainment channels, enough for EXO-M to have a new appearance every week, yet whether it’s due to racism or ignorance, many people in China call EXO-M a Korean group and think they can’t speak Chinese.
    Plus from my understanding, the allegation is that Kris received offers to work with Chinese directors in the past, but SM turned them down. The director of Tiny Times 3 said he wanted Kris in the movie and the deal was almost closed, but SM pulled him out at the last minute. Kris said he wanted to be an actor practically from the group’s debut, and being multi-lingual, handsome, charismatic (not to mention tall as the empire state building), I have no doubt that he could have been casted right away even if he was a terrible actor. (But I heard him sing in the Tiny Times 3 soundtrack, he must be a good actor if he managed to hide THAT for 2 years).
    The lawsuit also said that SM violated his basic human rights, which is a loaded statement. With rumors of him having a heart condition, being spotted at a cardiac research hospital and one of his first solo activities joining a charity that helps kids with heart problems, it could very well be that something was wrong with his heart and SM didn’t take it seriously. Maybe a 3 day concert would have been too much stress, who knows?

  • Lauren

    When I look at Kris’s activities I see a pattern.Kris was the MC twice for Airrang, but he was the only member out of exo who was capable as he is the only one who is fluent in English.Again three times on a sport show, this allows Kris to get an image in the group as cool and sporty, he does not need to speak at all. Hello Counselor is a show more focused on the guests that come in then the idols, the idols only introduce themselves and make a quick decision at the end of each of the guests problem. At the time the show had Eunhyuk, Ryeowook and Henry (Super Junior) on the show who are all from the same company, meaning a lot of idols to go around.
    This to me seems to be unfair, not one of the solo activities Kris was given required him to speak much, and if he spoke much it was based on the fact he was the only one capable (English Speaker).Like Lay, Luhan,Xiumin and Chen went on Beatles Code, which entirely focused on their guests exo, with minor inputs from others. I think Kris and Tao were pushed to the back only being aloud to improve their image, which to me is being biased when sorting their schedules out.

  • summertwinkle

    I don’t think the quantity of appearances equate to being treated fairly. Fairness is not necessarily a rational concept and involves personal emotions that are unique to different people. Like you can say because A is more popular, of course it’s fair A gets more appearances, but B is not necessarily going to feel that’s fair. From B’s point of view, he may value certain “appearances” as more valuable to him or her, so the quantity may not matter. And how B views the management way of assigning these projects matter a lot. We will not know how SM is negotiating these deals or how much much weight member’s input are considered in their operating decisions. For all we know, SM assigns them projects and they do them and that’s it. Maybe there is not much communication in terms of B wanting to express what direction he wants his career to go as an individual. Maybe SM has been getting offers for specific members that they reject for the better of the group or something like that, who knows?

    I know for a fact, based on what Henry himself once said in an interview, that he didn’t really care for variety shows before because he doesn’t feel like a musician (which seems to be his career goal). So I think in terms of opportunities, he’d care more about having more opportunities to create music as being more important than appearing on Real Men for example. Maybe if enough of these projects turn him off, he could’ve want to quit too (though I think he has found his charm in variety entertainment). So even if he has a lot of appearances, if another person has more opportunities to do what he wants to do, he would not feel that’s fair. Fairness is relative, and when you have a group…it’s kinda even easier for feelings of inequality/envy or whatever to be an issue.