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EXO’s success and its controversy

By on November 5, 2017

Exo is a South Korean-Chinese boy group based in Seoul. Formed by S.M. Entertainment in 2011, the twelve EXO members separated into two subgroups, Exo-K (Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O., Kai, and Sehun) and Exo-M (Xiumin, Lay, Chen and former members Kris, Luhan, and Tao, performing music in Korean and Mandarin respectively.

EXO’s Debut
Exo-K and Exo-M’s prologue single “What Is Love” was released on January 30, 2012, in mainland China and South Korea. The single peaked at number 88 on South Korea’s Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single “History”, which was written and produced by Thomas Troelsen and Remee. The single peaked at number 68 on the Gaon Single Chart and number six on China’s Sina Music Chart. Exo-K and Exo-M released their debut single, “Mama”, on April 8 followed by an EP Mama, on April 9. The two sub-groups would be promoting the album separately in two countries.


XOXO, commercial success, and Miracles in December
The group’s first studio album, XOXO was released on June 3, 2013, with two versions, a Korean-language and a Mandarin-language edition. Unlike Mama era when Exo-K and Exo-M had separate promotions, XOXO was jointly promoted; mainly in South Korea. Exo’s second EP Miracles in December was officially released December 9, 2013, as a special winter album through South Korean commercial outlets and online music stores. As of December 2013, all versions of XOXO have collectively sold over one million copies, making Exo the first Korean artist to sell over a million copies of one album in twelve years and breaking the record for being the fastest-selling K-pop act.

Kris’ and Luhan’s lawsuits, and first solo concert
S.M. Entertainment confirmed that Exo-M’s leader, Kris, had filed a lawsuit against the agency to terminate his contract, stating the violation of human rights as the main reason. Exo-M’s Luhan also filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, because of health issues and being treated differently than the Korean members, therefore having no promotions. S.M. Entertainment announced that Exo would continue to promote with 10 members. The group held their first solo concert “Exo from Exoplanet #1 – The Lost Planet” starting May 24 at the Seoul Olympic Gymnasium. Tickets for the concert sold out in 1.47 seconds, breaking the record for the fastest sold out concert by a Korean artist.