[Update] Tao to leave EXO, reports Chinese media; SME releases denial

TaoBW

Chinese media outlet IQIYI is reporting that EXO member Tao is going to be the latest member of the group to nullify his contract with SM Entertainment. Of course, it’s worth noting that the Chinese media have reported that Tao was leaving at least two or three other times that I heard about, so be skeptical.

Chinese media iQIYI reported the news as their headlines in their morning news. Previous reports of Kris (Wu Yifan) and Luhan leaving EXO and filing a lawsuit against SM Entertainment to nullify their contracts were reported by another Chinese news site Sina. Now all eyes are on Sina to see if they will report on this news as well.

Tao was previously announced to be on a break after a worsening leg injury, and the most recent update was that he has gone back home to his parents’ home to rest. iQIYI gathered all the recent happenings that gave possible hints for the departure of the Chinese member of EXO. The Chinese media reported his departure based on reliable informants with his connections within the industry.

Other than Tao, the only remaining Chinese member is Lay, who became the first SM artist to have the independent right to develop himself in China. The individual studio established by SM was said to support Lay in his Chinese activities, but speculations started to rise when Tao was not mentioned.

iQIYI also highlighted Tao’s increasing Chinese activities, including appearances on Chinese variety shows With You Down The Road, showcasing his Wushu skills on Ding Ge Long Dong Qiang with Chen, acting appearance in movie He Yi Sheng Xiao Mo, and getting close with Chinese celebrity Huang Xiaoming, could all point to the next step of nullifying his contract with SM Entertainment and moving his activities to China.

Chinese media outlet Sina, who were first to break the news that Kris and Luhan were leaving the group, reached out to SM Entertainment and got an odd reply.

On April 16th, Chinese media Sina reached out to SM Entertainment and the representative stated, “We’re not sure.” Sina could not obtain a response from Tao’s representatives.

That odd reply is literally the only reason I’m covering this, because rather than a straight denial, they went with some kind of “dunno” or “we’re struggling to contact him” type of shit.

I’m still skeptical, but I’m currently monitoring open windows for any signs of weeping.

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Update 1

Sina has removed the quote from SM Entertainment regarding Tao.

As of 5:40pm KST, the quote has been removed from Sina’s original article. In the updated article, Sina reports that there have been rumors of Tao’s departure and provides a summary of events up until now. The article ends saying that Tao’s side has not commented on the matter, with no mention of SM Entertainment’s stance in regards to the issue.

Since the only reason I deemed this noteworthy was the SME quote, now we can go into full skepticism mode.

Update 2

And here’s the denial:

SM Entertainment has denied the rumors surrounding EXO Tao in a statement to Star News: “The Chinese media report from April 16 about EXO’s Tao canceling his contract [with SM] isn’t true.”

All units stand down on Operation Open Window. I repeat, stand down.

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