Two former EXO members were ordered into forced arbitration with one of South Korea’s largest entertainment agencies.
A Seoul-based South Korean court ordered forced arbitration in the cases of Kris (Wu Yi Fan) and Luhan, two former members of SM Entertainment’s idol group EXO.
The two idols left SM Entertainment in 2014, and filed seperate contract nullification lawsuits.
The court-decided forced arbitration is mandatory and will result in a binding decision made outside of court regarding the dispute by the two against SM Entertainment, reported Star News on May 18.
Kris filed for contract nullification in May 2014, followed by Luhan’s departure from EXO in November.
Luhan and Kris sued SM Entertainment due to unfair work conditions and alleged favoritism towards Korean members of EXO.
“We are currently reviewing the forced arbitration ordered by the courts,” said Kris and Luhan’s legal representative.
“We cannot release any specific information in regards to the case.” SM Entertainment’s representative said that the forced arbitration is because of lack of reason for Luhan and Kris’s contract nullification lawsuits.
“When there is no concrete reason or proof to give up [their career] they hire the same attorneys to pursue the same goal,” an SM rep told Star News.
“Once they debuted and promoted with the group [EXO] and had gained popular as a celebrity, each begin ignoring contracts made with that agency [SM Entertainment] and the agency’s interests in order to leave for their own benefit.” Both former EXO members are Chinese nationals and members of subgroup EXO-M.
Each began careers in China shortly after leaving South Korea while legal representatives for both parties pursued arbitration in South Korea.
Disputes between employees and companies are often settled via forced arbitration clauses included in contracts.
Forced arbitration cases waive the right of the employees to pursue further lawsuits.
South Korean courts favor arbitration over legislation, due to “relatively lower costs” according to the International Bar Association’s 2012 Guide to Arbitration in South Korea.
In 2015, SM Entertainment took action against Kris and Luhan in China regarding their ongoing activities while still legally bound by SM Entertainment’s exclusivitiy contracts.
SM Entertainment has a history of ending contract nullification lawsuits in arbitration.
In 2009, three members of top Hallyu act TVXQ left SM Entertainment and filed contract nullification lawsuits.
Kim Jaejoong, Park Yoochun, and Kim Junsu formed a new group JYJ, and reached a mutual agreement with SM Entertainment in 2012 after a three-year long process of voluntary arbitration.
The company also reached an agreement outside of court regarding former Super Junior member Han Geng, after the Seoul Central District Court ruled in Han’s favor in 2010.
During the ongoing legal issues, EXO made a comeback in April with a new album, “EXODUS” and both Kris and Luhan took on roles in Chinese movies.
— Tamar Herman is a multi-media journalist and the co-founder of KultScene .
She is a freelance writer and copy editor, and an MTV Iggy contributor.
Tamar currently works in the newsroom of one of New York City’s largest news stations, and can be followed on Twitter .