EXO bandmates, critics cross as Kris quits
He claimed he was treated "like a machine part or as an object of control".
He also accused his management agency of not presenting his vision as an entertainer.
Kris, 24, of Korean boy band EXO, wants out. He filed a lawsuit against his agency SM Entertainment last week to nullify his contract.
EXO is a 12-member K-pop boy band which consists of Chinese sub-unit EXO-M (six members) and Korean sub-unit EXO-K (six members), which target the Chinese and Korean music markets respectively.
Kris, the leader of EXO-M, may have spoken, but were those the real reasons why he is so adamant on leaving his group?
Or is it because he wants to go solo so that he can make more money?
That's what SKarf founder Alan Chan believes. SKarf is the first K-pop girl group with two Singaporean members.
The CEO of Singapore entertainment company Alpha Entertainment offered a twist to K-pop's biggest recent shocker when he made the suggestion that Kris is a selfish diva who has a personal agenda.
Earlier theories put forth by thousands of distraught fans and media online were largely sympathetic to Kris's cause - was the K-pop star having financial difficulties, suffering from heart problems or being bullied by his band members?
In the lawsuit, he reportedly claimed that his company had never considered nor respected his opinion and health when scheduling the group's promotional activities in South Korea and China.
Giving his opinion on the saga, Mr Chan told The New Paper yesterday that insiders privy to the goings-on of the case had revealed to him that Kris, who was born in Guangzhou, has allegedly already signed on to film upcoming movies and dramas in China, where he has a massive fan base.
Launching an acting career would have been impossible if he were still part of EXO.
But whether he has been mistreated by his agency remains a separate issue.
Mr Chan has some staff in the Korea arm of his company who were previously SM Entertainment employees. He said that the entertainment giant has always been fair in its business dealings.
He said: "What I was told is that Kris's side is very confident about winning the case.
"Suing one's own agency is common in Korea. Youngsters nowadays don't respect the spirit of the contract, as their mentality is different from that of veteran entertainers."
"Kris is a diva, he probably wants to go solo so that he can make more money.
"He was given the stage that made him famous. He didn't sign the contract blindly."
Mr Chan added: "Everyone knows that training in Korea is tough and if the rest of his band members don't have a problem, why does he?
"By doing this, he is being irresponsible because this will affect the 11 other members who have worked very hard to get to where they are today."
Indeed, Kris's band members have branded him a traitor for quitting on them just before their first solo concert world tour kicks off this Friday.
In a recent interview with the Chinese press, bandmate Tao said: "Pulling this kind of stunt without consulting any of us as we await our world tour that is important to all of us is unacceptable and is an act of bad faith."
The other members explained that the group plans to proceed with its concerts.
"Our EXO members are carrying out our activities and have no issues with our agency," said Lay.
Luhan added: "We hope there will be no more malicious public sentiment."
Pulling this kind of stunt without consulting any of us as we await our world tour that is important to all of us is unacceptable and is an act of bad faith.
- EXO bandmate Tao on Kris' plan to quit the group.
Kris is hurting us by quitting: local fans
Local EXO fans say they feel betrayed and heartbroken by Kris' decision to leave the band.
Lauren Low, 15, a student, told The New Paper: "I'm angry and I'm hurt that Kris would do this, if he's doing it for personal gain.
"If SM Entertainment were really slave drivers, there would be no reason why some of the most successful K-pop groups, like Girls' Generation, are still managed by them.
"I hope Kris changes his mind because he's not only hurting the rest of EXO, he's also hurting his fans who have invested our love and trust in him."
Fellow student Michelle Jo-Thein, 18, said Kris was the only reason she liked EXO.
"I believe that Kris must have been treated unfairly to make such a drastic decision.
"But I still don't want him to leave. I can't imagine him not being part of EXO, and not being part of their future albums.
"My friends and I cried really badly when we heard the news."
Kris' fans, in an outpour of rage and sympathy for their idol online, have also created the Twitter hashtag #SMentWorstCompanyInKorea, which has been trending on the social media website.
One fan's petition for "Kris' freedom" has garnered several thousand signatures while other fans have begged other entertainment agencies to "adopt EXO", for they believe the boys are victims of what has been coined as a "slave contract". Kris is not the first K-pop boy band member to file a lawsuit against SM Entertainment.
In 2009, Super Junior-M leader Hangeng cited lengthy work hours and lack of timely medical treatment in his allegations against SM Entertainment.
The China native is now a successful solo singer on the mainland.
Kris has reportedly engaged the same lawyer who had successfully helped Hangeng terminate his contract.
I hope Kris changes his mind because...(he's) hurting his fans who have invested our love and trust in him.
- Local EXO fan Lauren Low on Kris leaving EXO.