A contract battle resumes as EXO-CBX claim SME broke promises & aren’t paying them, while SME responds with tampering accusations

I thought the EXO-CBX contract saga with SM Entertainment had reached its conclusion almost a year ago — despite related news continuing to stumble in — yet it will now apparently resume in earnest. The most recent update is that Chen, Baekhyun, and Xiumin announced a press conference for INB100 to talk about unfair treatment from SME.

In what basically amounted to a teaser for the presser, the company rep claims SME isn’t abiding by the negotiated terms and is demanding a 10% cut of revenue from the trio’s INB100 activities. The company says they filed a wrongful treatment complaint but SME hasn’t responded for two months.

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Alright, on with the summary of the press conference, which the three members didn’t attend but three executives did: INB100 CEO Kim Dong Jun, ONE HUNDRED Chairman Cha Ga Won, and lawyer Lee Jae Hak.

INB100 claims that SME (COO Lee Sung Soo) proposed that INB100 would distribute through Kakao via SME and that the fee would be 5.5%. However, while it was in the draft, SME claimed they can’t include it in writing because they aren’t the actual distributor (Kakao), so they got a verbal agreement. Now they explain SME wants 10% of solo album activities, personal concerts and advertisements.

INB100 also say they still haven’t received settlement data despite it agreeing to be received last year and it being a legal right. The say the only reason they stopped pursuing it was they wanted to move forward after the settlement last year. INB100 explain that they intend to pay for EXO and unit content they do that was under SME, but that SME didn’t pay them their signing bonuses on their renewal, so they continue to work for the sake of keeping EXO together and for the fans.

As far as the actual renewal at the time goes, INB100 says SME pressured Baekhyun in late-2022 to re-sign for five years during military service. They claim he requested changes to terms eight times but didn’t get them, and they convinced him by saying it’ll benefit the other EXO members. And they pushback against tampering claims, with Cha Ga Won explaining he wasn’t purchasing Big Planet Made at the time, and says MC Mong gave Baekhyun advice as a friend, and that the trio are like family, which is why they all came together in the end. It’s emphasized they did not sign any exclusive contracts until the previous situation was resolved.

Despite raising their concerns months ago about this issue, they’ve yet to receive a response, so they are cancelling that agreement from June of 2023. INB100 say the legal disputes were dropped based on SME’s verbal promise, and they had thought the verbal promise would help protect the rights of other artists and that contact conditions improved for juniors. However, now that it’s been violated, they will respond with a review of criminal complaints — making fraud insinuations — and FTC complaints.

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SME then responded to the press conference with a statement.

In it, they explain the root of this disagreement is tampering by MC Mong and Cha Ga Won, as INB100 recently became a subsidiary of ONE HUNDRED. SME says that when they dropped it in the statement a year ago, they only did so for their sake. The company says they’re “devastated” by what they claim is a confirmation of tampering at the press conference.

They say that the agreement was indeed to pay 10% of revenue from INB100 to SME. They say that rate was established as precedent during their contracts with the Chinese EXO members that left, so they applied it to this case as well. They explain that it was them that amended a valid contract for the sake of CBX and EXO. They say the specific language was removed because they cannot include it for other distributors, and that it was a favor to them they did so without covering losses to them.

SME claim the talk about distribution rates was to assist them favorably, not to be unfair, and showed other considering to CBX’s activities. SME says EXO-CBX signed contracts for distribution and events independently, but after becoming a subsidiary they’re claiming they don’t need to adhere to the contract agreement. They describe it as essentially them wanting to profit as members of EXO but not wanting the obligations. SME even say that after receiving notice of this decision, they weren’t going to pursue it out of consideration for CBX.

SME claims CBX is only using the lack of settlement details as a pretext for invalidating their contract, which they said they didn’t do due to having concerns it would be seen by a third party tampering with CBX. They say CBX changed attitude towards the settlement data only due to tampering.

They conclude by saying that they won’t tolerate CBX trying to invalidate the contract and agreement by appealing to the public, and will respond by holding them accountable through court.

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So yeah, that settlement from a year ago? Out the window apparently, and the war over that is back on the menu.

On one hand, it’s hard to not be skeptical about tampering when they immediately go to the well of “family”, they were connected a year ago, and they just so happened to immediate link up again after they got independence. On the other hand, SME’s use of personal language like the corporate building is crying at their betrayal, the admission that they still haven’t sent them settlement documents (despite the excuse they gave), and their history of fuckery with artists makes it difficult to sympathize with them ever in these situations.

Either way, sure seems like that 2023 agreement was just done so the EXO comeback could continue smoothly, without somebody actually living up to their end of the bargain.

I’ll update details as I find them.

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