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Exo (band)

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Korea KPOP World Festival 13.jpg
EXO at the KPOP World Festival in 2013
Background information
Origin Seoul, South Korea
Years active 2011–present
Labels S.M. Entertainment (South Korea)
Avex Trax (Japan)
Associated acts

Luhan (inactive)
Kris (inactive)

Exo (Korean: 엑소; often stylized as EXO) is a Chinese-South Korean boy band based in Seoul. Formed by SM Entertainment in 2011, the group consists of twelve members separated into two subgroups, EXO-K and EXO-M, performing music in Korean and Mandarin, respectively. The group officially debuted on April 8, 2012, with Suho, Baekhyun, Chanyeol, D.O, Kai, and Sehun under the Korean subgroup while Xiumin, Luhan, Kris, Lay, Chen, and Tao are under the Mandarin group. Kris filed a lawsuit against S.M. to be removed from the group, and Luhan followed suit in October 2014.[1] The band now promotes with 10 members since mid-October 2014, which consists of 8 Korean and 2 Chinese members.

The fastest-selling Korean artist in 12 years, EXO rose to fame with their breakthrough hit "Wolf" and solidified their success with "Growl," winning the Disk Daesang at the 28th Golden Disk Awards and the Album of the Year at the 15th Mnet Asian Music Awards for XOXO, making them the youngest boy band to do so. EXO also set the record for being the highest-charting Korean male act on the Billboard 200 with their third EP, Overdose.[2]


2011: Formation

In May 2011, at a Hallyu business seminar held at Stanford University, Lee Soo-man spoke about a strategy of debuting a new boyband, in which they would be divided into 2 subgroups, promoting the same music simultaneously in South Korea and China by performing songs in both Korean and Mandarin.[3] After several changes,[4] in December 2011, the group finalized their name to EXO, with the names EXO-K for the South Korean subgroup and EXO-M for the Chinese subgroup. Their name was taken from the word exoplanet. They debuted their first televised performance at SBS's annual Gayo Daejun event on December 29, 2011.[5]

2012: Debut and Mama

Exo-M at the KCON 2012 in Irvine, California

EXO-K and EXO-M's prologue single "What Is Love" was released on January 30, 2012, in mainland China and South Korea.[6] The single peaked at number 88 on South Korea's Gaon Single Chart. On March 9, the group released their second prologue single "History",[7] 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.[8]

A concert for the group was held in Seoul's Olympic Stadium on March 31.[9] Approximately 3,000 fans from 8,000 applicants were selected to attend.[10] A second concert was held in the Great Hall of the Beijing University of International Business and Economics on April 1.[11]

EXO-K and EXO-M released their debut single, "Mama", on April 8[12] followed by an EP, Mama, on April 9. On April 8, Exo-K performed on South Korea's music program The Music Trend, while EXO-M made their debut in China's Top Chinese Music Awards on the same day.[13] A day after release, "Mama" reached number one on various Chinese online retailers and music charts.[14] Exo-M's album reached number two on China's Sina Album Chart, number five on South Korea's Gaon Album Chart, and number twelve on the Billboard World Albums Chart.[15] Exo-K's album peaked at number one on the Gaon Album Chart[16] and at number eight on the Billboard World Albums Chart.[15] Exo-M's "Mama" music video reached number one on Chinese streaming websites, while Exo-K's version reached to number seven on YouTube's Global Chart.[17] In late April 2012, Exo-M performed as a guest act for Super Junior's Super Show 4 concert tour in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In November 2012, EXO won Best New Asian Artist Group at the 2012 Mnet Asian Music Awards. EXO-K received three nominations at the 27th Golden Disk Awards, winning the Newcomer Award. EXO-M received the Most Popular Group award at the 2013 Top Chinese Music Awards.[citation needed]

2013: XOXO, commercial success and Miracles in December

Exo with South Korean President, Park Geun-hye in China on June 28, 2013.

XOXO was released in June 2013 to two versions, a Korean-language "Kiss" edition and a Mandarin-language "Hug" edition. Unlike during the Mama era, when EXO-K and EXO-M had separate promotions, XOXO was jointly promoted. The subgroups collaborated for the album's lead single, "Wolf", but the rest of the album was recorded separately. A few days after its release, the songs in XOXO topped almost every real-time chart from online music websites of South Korea and mainland China.[18][19] The two versions collectively peaked at number one on the Billboard World Album Chart a week after release. Lead single "Wolf" peaked at number one on three of South Korea's music programs, earning the name "triple win." "Wolf" also won a trophy on MBC Music's Show Champion, but the song fared worse on music download charts, reaching to only top thirty spots in recorded charts from both South Korea and China.

A repackaged version of XOXO, with three additional tracks, was released on August 5, 2013. The reissue's lead single, "Growl", was unveiled via YouTube on August 1, 2013, in the format of a music video. On August 18, "Growl" achieved 10,554 points on The Music Trend charts, setting a new number one record on the show.[20] "Growl" reached number one on all four of Korea's major music programs, winning a total of ten trophies in three consecutive weeks. The single peaked at number three on Billboard's Korea K-Pop Hot 100[21] and number two on the Gaon's Singles chart. As of October 2013, all versions of XOXO have collectively sold over 910,000 copies,[22] breaking the record for being fastest-selling K-pop artist in twelve years. XOXO was named Album of the Year at the 2013 Mnet Asian Music Awards, making EXO the youngest ever boy band to win the award.

EXO's second EP Miracles in December was officially released December 9, 2013 through South Korean commercial outlets and online music stores. Exo jump-started album promotions through their reality show EXO's Showtime, which premiered on November 28, 2013 on the cable channel MBC Every 1.[23] Baekhyun, Chen, and D.O. performed the EP's lead single, "Miracles in December", at M! Countdown on December 5.

2014: Overdose, Kris' and Luhan's lawsuit

EXO's third EP, Overdose, was released on May 7, 2014 in two language editions – Exo-K's Korean version and Exo-M's Mandarin version.[24] It reached 660,000+ preorders before its release, making it the most pre-ordered mini-album in history.[25] The Korean edition also peaked at No. 2 on Billboard's World Albums Chart, and No. 129 on the "Billboard 200", making EXO the highest charting Korean male group act on the Billboard 200.[26][27]

On May 15, 2014, S.M. Entertainment confirmed that EXO-M's leader, Kris, had filed a lawsuit against the agency to terminate his contract for being treated like an object and violating basic human rights.[28] leaving the band with 11 members.[29] On October 10, Luhan filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, because of health issues and being treated differently than it's Korean members having no promotions.[30][31] By the end of the calendar year, EXO was Japan's biggest-selling K-pop artist of the year.[32]

On February 4th, 2015, S.M Entertainment filed a lawsuit against Kris and Luhan for illegally continuing their promotions in China. The lawsuit was to stop their acting and advertisement under the use of the S.M trademark.[33]


Main article: List of Exo members



  1. ^ Luhan is currently an inactive member, due to his lawsuit against SM Entertainment since October 10, 2014.
  2. ^ Kris is currently an inactive member, due to his lawsuit against SM Entertainment since May 15, 2014.



Main article: Exo discography
  • XOXO (2013)
  • EXODUS (2015)


Main article: Exo filmography


On May 15, 2014, S.M. Entertainment confirmed that EXO-M's leader, Kris, had filed a lawsuit against the agency to terminate his contract for violation of basic human rights and his choices career wise.[citation needed] It is suspected that there is disagreement between him and S.M. Entertainment regarding his activities.[34] The same law firm that represented Han Geng of Super Junior in his lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment will also be representing Kris.[35]

On October 10, 2014, Luhan filed a lawsuit against S.M. Entertainment to nullify his contract, mainly because of health issues and for being treated differently than its Korean members. The same law that represented Han Geng and Kris in their lawsuits against S.M. Entertainment will also be representing Luhan.[36]


Other ventures


Early February 2013, EXO began promoting a South Korean clothing brand, "Kolon Sport." The band shot a commercial ad for a new pair of sneakers named after them, MOVE-XO.[37]

The band has launched a clothing range called Boy Who Cried Wolf (BWCW), partnering up with various Korean street brands. The collaboration store is located at OUTLAB in Garosu-gil, Sinsa-dong.[38] EXO also has a 2-year endorsement deal with cosmetics brand, Nature Republic.[39]


The members of EXO-K became goodwill ambassadors for South Korea's Red Cross Youth in December 2012.[40] Members of EXO and Bae Doona are appointed as official ambassadors for Fashion-KODE 2014 which is host by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Korea and the Korea Active Content Agency Fashion Festival in July 2014.[41] In July 2014, Samsung announced EXO as Samsung’s brand ambassador for 2014 Summer Youth Olympics.[42]

Awards and nominations

EXO have been recipients of numeruous awards from South Korea and mainland China. EXO has also won 41 music program awards. On June 14, 2013, a year after their official debut, the band received their first number-one win on South Korean music program Music Bank with the single "Wolf." The following weekend, the song achieved number-one wins on Show! Music Core and The Music Trend, becoming a "triple win" hit.[43] It also won a champion trophy on music program Show Champion.[44]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "EXO's 'Overdose' EP Enters Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  3. ^ "SM's Lee Soo-man announces new boy band" (in Korean). Nate. May 9, 2011. Retrieved April 15, 2012. 
  4. ^ "S.M. Entertainment's chairman Lee Soo-man discusses culture industry secrets and slave contracts" (in Korean). Chosun Ilbo. October 16, 2010. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ "S.M.'s rookie group EXO made debut in the SBS Gayo Daejun". Newsen (in Korean). December 29, 2011. Retrieved April 30, 2012. 
  6. ^ "SM 새 그룹 Exo, 30일 프롤로그 싱글 공개" [Exo releases first single]. (in Korean). 2012-01-27. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  7. ^ "The Prologue Single II ‘HISTORY’ of SM’s New Groups, EXO-K and EXO-M, will be Released on the 9th at 00:00 a.m.!" (Press release). S.M. Entertainment. 2012-03-26. Retrieved 2012-04-24. 
  8. ^ 新歌飙升榜 [Sina Music Charts] (in Chinese). 2012-03-12. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  9. ^ Exo (2012-04-07). Exo Showcase Part 3 (in Korean and Mandarin Chinese). S.M. Entertainment. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
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  12. ^ "The First Mini Album Title Song ‘MAMA’ of Exo-K and Exo-M will be Released Worldwide on the 8th at 00:00!" (Press release). S.M. Entertainment. 2012-04-07. Retrieved 2012-04-11. 
  13. ^ "Exo-K and Exo-M will Make Their Debut on April 8th both in Korea and China!" (Press release). S.M. Entertainment. 2012-04-03. Retrieved 2012-04-26. 
  14. ^ "韩团Exo-M《MAMA》雄踞中国音乐榜榜首" [Korean group Exo-M's single "Mama" reaches number one in China] (in Chinese). 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
  15. ^ a b "World Albums". Retrieved 2012-04-21. 
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  17. ^ Lee, Jinho (2012-04-09). "Exo-K’s Music Video Comes In Seventh on Youtube Chart". Mnet. Retrieved 2012-04-13. 
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  19. ^ Jeon Su Mi & Erika Kim (4 June 2013), EXO′s ′XOXO′ Gobbles Up Top Spots on Album Charts, enewsWorld, retrieved 2013-06-04 
  20. ^ KRG (2013-08-18). "EXO beats senior singers 2NE1 and f(x) for 'The Music Trend' first place". Nate (in Korean). Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  21. ^ Jeff Benjamin (August 15, 2013). "Crayon Pop rides viral wave to No. 1 on K-Pop Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 25, 2013. 
  22. ^ "EXO-M @ Weibo". Weibo (in Chinese). 2013-10-14. Retrieved 2013-10-14. 
  23. ^ "MBC+Media - EXO'S SHOWTIME" (in Korean). MBC. Retrieved October 31, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Overdose by Exo". iTunes JP. Apple. May 7, 2014. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  25. ^ Jeon Su Mi (May 13, 2014). "EXO ‘Overdoses’ Asia by Topping Various Weekly Charts". enewsWorld (Mwave). Retrieved February 24, 2015. 
  26. ^ "EXO-K and EXO-M chart in the Top 5 on Billboard's World Albums Chart with 'Overdose'". Allkpop. May 16, 2014. Retrieved September 29, 2014. 
  27. ^ "EXO's 'Overdose' EP Enters Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved September 23, 2014. 
  28. ^ Jackson, Julie (May 16, 2014). "EXO-M’s Kris wants out, files suit against SM". The Korea Herald. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
  29. ^ "Kris-less EXO members talk first solo concert series". Korea Herald. May 25, 2014. Retrieved May 26, 2014. 
  30. ^ Sung So-young (October 11, 2014). "Luhan plans to leave Exo". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
  31. ^ Chung Joo-won (October 10, 2014). "EXO Luhan sues S.M. to end exclusive contract". The Korea Herald. Retrieved December 31, 2014. 
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  33. ^
  34. ^ "韓男團「EXO」拆夥! 中國成員KRIS鬧失蹤求解約" [EXO Chinese member Kris go missing asking to terminate his contract]. (in Chinese). 2014-05-15. Retrieved 2014-05-15. 
  35. ^ "엑소 크리스, 전속계약해지 소송 "조용히 처리할 것" vs SM "당황"(종합)" (in Korean). Enews. May 15, 2014. Retrieved May 15, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Reports reveal Luhans reasons behind lawsuit statements from representative and friend of Luhan". Soompi. Retrieved 10 October 2014. 
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  38. ^ "EXO to open up 'BWCW' collaboration store". MWave. 2013-08-08. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 
  39. ^ 태연·엑소, 네이처리퍼블릭 모델로 발탁 (in Korean). Asia Economy. 2013-08-28. Retrieved 2013-08-28. 
  40. ^ "EXO-K Appointed Honorary Ambassadors For Korean Red Cross Youth". Han Cinema. 2012-12-05. Retrieved 2013-08-08. 
  41. ^ "EXO & Actress Bae Doona appointed as the official ambassadors of Fashion-KODE 2014". onehallyu. June 18, 2014. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  42. ^ "EXO as ambassador for 2014 Summer Youth Olympics". telecompaper. Retrieved October 4, 2014. 
  43. ^ MountainMadman (June 16, 2013). "EXO achieves the 'triple win' with trophies on all three major broadcast stations". Allkpop. Retrieved July 1, 2013. 
  44. ^ "EXO winning number one on Inkigayo". Naver (in Korean). 2013-06-16. Retrieved 2013-08-10. 

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