Korean Court Orders Former EXO Members into Arbitration
Two separate lawsuits filed by former members of ‘idol’ group EXO in Korean courts have been ordered into arbitration with SM Entertainment. The two former members of the group, Kris (Wu Yi Fan) and Luhan, filed the suits claiming unfair work conditions and racism, claiming that they were treated differently from other members of the group because they are ethnically Chinese.
SM Entertainment denies these claims, and in turn claims that the two only expressed dissatisfaction after the promotion and publicity of EXO had made them into stars in their own right. Once established as celebrities, the company claims, they each sought to be freed from their contracts to pursue their own career goals. SM Entertainment points to the fact that both Luhan and Kris launched careers in China after leaving EXO, building on their fame with the group. SM Entertainment sued both at that time, claiming they were in violation of their contracts which required exclusivity to SM Entertainment. In response, both men filed nullification lawsuits seeking to end their contractual obligations to SM Entertainment.
Korean courts are very supportive of forced arbitration, and many contracts in Korea include such language. The court has ordered both suits be settled via arbitration, with the arbitrator’s decision being binding and final. Meanwhile, EXO has replaced Luhan and Kris and released a new album, and both men have launched film careers in China. EXO is an ‘idol’ group that often has members leave and be replaced.