The news came so suddenly to fans and netizens and has garnered much attention since.
According to Law Firm LIN, the three EXO members have submitted a total of 7 requests for documents detailing the earnings and payments of all three artists from March through May. Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen requested clear and transparent records of the company's earnings calculations after they suspected problematic aspects of their earnings.
However, SM Entertainment claimed that its artists could review records of their earnings at any time. In addition, SM Entertainment has countered previous statements made by Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen, asserting that the company is diligently adhering to the established regulations regarding exclusive contracts in the entertainment industry. They refute the claims that the members were denied opportunities to explore alternative options.
The current dispute has left netizens in various online communities divided with multiple statements from both sides.
Then on June 6, another revelation surfaced on the online community app Blind. This time, the account of the dispute was seen through the eyes of an SM Entertainment employee. 'Blind' is an anonymous Korean social networking app for the workplace. Before being allowed to use the app, you must verify your work credentials to post anonymously on the app.
The employee created a lengthy post, calling out Baekhyun, Xiumin, and Chen on their claims about the "Unfair" exclusive contract renewal and their claims that SM Entertainment did not provide an accurate financial statement revealing their earnings.
The SM Entertainment employee wrote, "How can we provide the original financial document to people who are basically under freelance contracts when it's confidential company information? But we made a chat room for the artists where they can inquire and look at the financial documents whenever they have questions..." The employee elaborated that the artists were able to nitpick all fine details of the documents with a finance division staff member.
The employee also pointed out that the artists manipulated the media by claiming they were afraid to argue about the contract renewal conditions. The employee wrote, "It truly perplexes me to hear them claim they felt apprehensive about discussing contract conditions due to their rookie status, especially when they themselves were actively involved in the contract renewal process. I could understand if they had voiced these concerns earlier in their careers, but at the time of their contract renewals, they were hardly rookies. They were established stars with significant influence, not rookies intimidated by the company. Their decisions were their own, made from when they were in a position of top stardom."
The employee elaborated, asserting that the staff at SM Entertainment consistently strive to provide the highest level of care and attention to their artists. This commitment to quality, as the employee pointed out, is reflected in the incurred expenses and shared, "I recall an instance where one artist demanded a reduction in expenses and an increase in their pay. They stirred a commotion, requesting us to disclose our financial records. Yet, if we genuinely lowered the expense costs, they would then argue we're not treating them well." The employee added, "Despite our small salaries, we put in tireless effort, even to the point of tears, to provide support for our artists."
The anonymous employee of SM continued, "I couldn't help but laugh at the misconceptions about how SM views them. We have hundreds of dedicated employees here, tirelessly working for them. It's true that not every artist feels obliged to be thankful to the staff, but this level of disconnect is truly baffling. There are numerous employees who feel pissed off because the company is so artist-focused. It's also baffling that fans think that the company is the bad guy here after they only read articles."
The employee concluded saying, "The company is not some evil agency that takes the artists' money but they are a partner that works with the artist to produce... They need to set up their own company and really go through all the hardships to realize how difficult it really is..."
Many K-netizens are agreeing with the employee and are feeling sympathy for the staff at SM Entertainment. They commented, "They should have really mentioned the contract conditions before renewing," "What this employee said is so right," "I feel bad for the staff members," "It's the employees who are the ones suffering," "I used to work in this field and I agree 100%," "I really feel bad," and "It's so true. There's no point in worrying about celebrities. The true people who suffer are the staff."