Three Exo boy band members file complaint over ‘slave contracts’
SEOUL – K-pop boy band Exo member Baekhyun, Xiumin and Chen have lodged a complaint with South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission over their so-called “slave contracts”, their lawyer said on Monday.
The trio, who are also in the sub-unit Exo-CBX, made the news last Thursday when they notified their long-time management agency, SM Entertainment, of their decision to terminate their contracts and leave the eight-member band.
They had been in a dispute over excessively long contract durations, lasting up to 18 years, and alleged lack of transparency in financial matters.
Their attorney, Mr Lee Jae-hak from the Seoul-based law firm Lin, said in a press release that the three members were asking the authority to intervene in “the company’s act of abusing its dominant position in business”, according to a Yonhap news agency report carried in The Korea Herald.
The complaint also questioned the relatively long contract durations for artistes of the K-pop powerhouse compared with those managed by other agencies.
“If the minimum number of albums (specified in the contract) is not released, the contract period automatically extends until the requirement is met, and there is no specified upper limit on the duration,” it said. “This is clearly a slave contract.”
Following the dispute, SM Entertainment had agreed to conditionally provide copies of the trio’s financial documents. However, it refused to accept their demands for contract termination.
“We want to make it clear that a contract should not be terminated only with a unilateral notification,” it said in a statement, adding that all parties were in discussion to prevent disruption to the band’s upcoming activities.
The trio, who made their debut in the boy band in 2012, said in their June 1 statement: “We feel scared and daunted in taking this first small step to talk about the unfair treatment (we have faced) until now. Please realise the courage it has taken us (to do this).”