News / Features / Editorial

6 Chinese Idols Who Have Left The K-Pop Industry

By Tamar Herman | July 18, 2015 12:06 PM EDT

This week saw three Chinese K-pop idols announce their decision to pursue careers in China, following a growing trend of Chinese idols who leave their K-pop acts. 

1. Han Geng (Hankyung), formerly of Super Junior

Han Geng left Super Junior in 2009, four years after debuting as a member of SM Entertainment's first megagroup.

During Super Junior's debut era, Han Geng faced visa restrictions that kept him from performing on all Korean television channels with Super Junior. As a solution, Han Geng wore a mask and hat to hide his appearance and was mistaken as Super Junior's backup dancer until another member of Super Junior, Heechul, unmasked Han Geng mid performance to raise light to the situation.

The visa restrictions were later eased, but the mishandling of Han Geng's visa became a part of his 2009 contract termination lawsuit against SM Entertainment. Based on unfair treatment, illegal "slave contract" conditions, discrimination, and being forced into certain situations against his will, the Seoul Central District Court ruled in favor of Han Geng's claims in 2010. SM Entertainment announced a plan to appeal the decision, and in 2011 the two sides came to a mutual agreement and ended all legally binding contracts.

Han Geng has since pursued an acting and singing career in China, and appeared in the Hollywood film "Transformers: Age of Extinction" in 2014.  

2. Wu Yi Fan (Kris), formerly of EXO (EXO-M)

The former leader of EXO's Mandarin-speaking subgroup EXO-M left SM Entertainment in May 2014, two years after debuting with EXO. The same law firm that represented Han Geng took on Kris's case, with similar reasoning including SM Entertainment's disregard of basic human rights and overworking Kris.

In an interview on Chinese television in February, Kris said that being separated from his family was also a motivator to leave EXO.

The lawsuit is ongoing, and Kris has since pursued an acting and singing career in China. Kris appeared at the 2015 Met Gala in New York City, and modeled on Vogue China with Kendall Jenner.

3. Luhan, formerly of EXO (EXO-M)

In November 2014, Luhan followed in Kris's footsteps and left EXO after filing a contract termination lawsuit against SM Entertainment. Luhan also used the same lawyers as Kris and Hangeng, and claimed that there was disparity in treatment between the members of EXO-M and EXO's Korean language subgroup, EXO-K.

The lawsuit is ongoing, and Luhan has since pursued an acting and singing career in China. Lohan won multiple awards in China in 2014 and 2015, revealing his immense popularity. 

4.  Tao, formerly of EXO (EXO-M)  

In April, Chinese media reported that Tao left EXO. SM Entertainment denied the claims, but shortly after Tao's father spoke to the Chinese media and revealed that he had asked Tao to leave EXO due to his son's ailing health allegedly due to overwork under SM Entertainment.

Tao has been absent from EXO's promotions since the release of the group's album "EXODUS" in March.

On July 13, Tao announced that he would make a solo debut in China, although his future in EXO is still unclear. SM Entertainment's latest statement said that the two sides were still in discussion. 

5 & 6. Daeryong and Soryong of TASTY

On July 15, the twin duo TASTY announced that it was leaving Woollim Entertainment to pursue a career in China. The two sides had a public back and forth, where Woollim claimed that TASTY was not in communication with the company, while TASTY claimed that they spoke to the company and left after they were unfairly treated.

TASTY debuted under Woollim Entertainment in 2012, and last made a Korean comeback in 2013. In 2014, the pair released a single  in China.

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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.

Tagged :  EXO, Chinese, K-Pop, betrayal, Luhan, Kris, tao, Hangeng, Tasty

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