According to Vulture, members Baekhyun, Xiumin and Chen allege that the company withheld payment and subjected them to “slave” contracts. The are now ready to file a lawsuit and take legal action.
“We feel scared and daunted in taking this first small step to talk about the unfair treatment (we have faced) until now. … Please realize the courage it has taken us (to do this). We’re truly grateful to all the fans who have supported us for a long time,” Baekhyun, Xiumin and Chen said in a statement.
“If SM had reimbursed [the three members] correctly, then there would be no reason at all for it to not send the requested documents. If other artists under the SM agency have also not been receiving their payment details and evidence as in the case of Baekhyun, Xiumin and Chen, then this problem is not limited to only these three but affects all of SM’s artists,” the members’ lawyer, Lee Jae-Hak, said in a statement, according to the Korea Herald.
Lee also claims that SM Entertainment — the same label responsible for other massive groups such as NCT, Shinee, Girls Generation, Aespa and more — is “committing tyrannical acts” by forcing artists to sign “slave” contracts with unreasonable requirements.
“While signing a longtime deal of 12–13 years with its artists, SM made its artists sign another exclusive contract for when the initial contract term comes to its end, leading to prolonged terms of at least 17–18 years. Such long, exclusive terms excessively restrain the artists’ personal rights, which may face regulation by law as an unfair practice according to the Monopoly Regulation and Fair Trade Act,” Lee alleges.
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SM Entertainment has refuted the claims alleged by the EXO members.
“We have discovered that these outside forces are not only luring the artists to breach the valid exclusive contracts they have signed with the company but using them to get through to other artists to also violate the contract terms or sign double contracts,” the company said in a statement.
SM promised to pursue legal action against the “greedy” outside forces who show no “profound interest in the future or the rights of the artists.”
“Our artists are adults who can think for themselves and take responsibility for their own decisions,” Lee responded, according to Naver.
The members also promised to keep working with the rest of the group despite their legal turmoil, including participating in EXO’s upcoming comeback.
Many idols, who are often just teenagers when they are in their trainee stage, are forced to sign contracts before even making their debut.