I used to be the biggest SM supporter there was. I thought SM was simply the best and they proved themselves to be through the years. K-Pop would not be as popular and successful as it is today, if Lee Soo Man hadn’t decided Korea could do with some pop music. Even if your favorite group isn’t in SM Entertainment, the agencies would have never thought of creating them if H.O.T, Shinhwa, Fly to the Sky, S.E.S, DBSK, Super Junior, and Girls’ Generation hadn’t set the standard. Even SHINee, f(x), and EXO were trend setters in their own right.
I know SM has done and can do shady things. I, too, have heard the rumors of ill treatment. But even when the “slave contracts” were revealed and DBSK broke my heart by breaking up into those two lesser groups, I stuck by SM. Every time SM was involved in a controversy, I let it go because SM always redeemed itself by producing these amazing groups.
But lately I’ve been having a hard time being an SM stan. It’s not because there are these idols leaving and suing the company. What bothers me is how SM is handling these scandals.
They’re not handling it very well.
I have my own opinions on this growing list of former SM artists, but Luhan‘s announcement bothered me the most. Before a departure there are always rumors and murmurings, but for the most part, the general public is unaware until the official announcement. But with Luhan, everyone and their mothers knew that he would be leaving the group.
When I first heard the rumors that Luhan was going to leave SM about two weeks ago, I didn’t take it too seriously since those kind of rumors pop up almost regularly. Fans talk crap and assume the worst of things all the time online. Normally these rumors stay within the hardcore fans but with this one, everyone was talking about it. It wasn’t long before anyone who was actively involved with K-Pop knew the rumor that Luhan would announce this week that he was leaving SM the same way of Kris.
I didn’t doubt that there was something going on with Luhan, there had been a lot of hints and other rumors before, but I thought that SM would be savvy and smart enough to negotiate with Luhan during this time. Having another member of EXO-M leave the group with a lawsuit would do terrible things to the SM brand, and SM has had a rough year as it is. How could they not have learned from the fiasco that was Kris leaving the group? I really hoped that this week would pass and Luhan would go perform in the next SMTOWN concert, and later SM and I would do an imaginary high five and shout, “Crisis averted!”
But no, that’s not what happened. Instead, SM played dumb and said they didn’t see this coming when everyone else did. They even released Red Velvet‘s second single on the same day. Did they think that the unimpressive cover would distract people from Luhan, the darling deer of EXO-M? Were they so unenthusiastic about that release that they wanted it to get pushed into the shadows by the controversy? Did they actually get played and were blindsided by Luhan? I don’t know! I can’t explain it. It’s such a bad move, that even I, the biggest SM supporter there ever was, can’t rationalize it.
So what I do? What do I do when the company I admired for being so creative and making all these smart decisions, starts making more and more questionable decisions? Do I stay firm and stand my ground, like back in 2012 when everyone thought that EXO would suck all the money out of SM with their silly music videos? Is this just a set back for SM (they had bad years before) and will they make a triumphant comeback in 2015, taking back their number one position?
Or is this the beginning of the decline? Should I grab a life jacket and jump this sinking ship?
I don’t know.
*The opinions expressed in this editorial are solely those of the author.