The first time when Chinese people knew about K-POP was in the late 1990’s when one of the most powerful entertainment companies in South Korea, SM entertainment, launched the first boy group H.O.T. However, it was not until 2009 when K-POP became really popular in China.
In 2005, the 13-boy-member group, Super Junior, debuted. Geng Hang, the first Chinese trainee debuting in Korea, was one of the members of Super Junior. Geng Hang officially quitted the group on December 21, 2009 and started his solo career in China.
This is not the end of the story of Chinese trainees in Korea. Actually, more and more Chinese teenagers expect to become trainees or at least… have some experiences in Korean entertainment companies.
In the meantime, realizing having a Chinese in a group can make more profits from China entertainment market, Korean entertainments companies start to launch new groups with a minimum of one Chinese. This includes: Mi Zhou in SJ-M (debuting in 2008), Victoria Song in f(x) (debuting in 2009), Fei and Jia in Miss A (debuting in 2010), Han Lu(ceased activities with EXO on October 10, 2014), Tao (ceased activities with EXO on August 24, 2015)and Lay in EXO (debuting in 2012).
These groups are very famous in South Korea but Han Lu and Tao still chose to file a lawsuit against SM Entertainment, come back to China and have their new career in China.
The SM entertainment never announced the reasons why Han Lu and Tao would stop the contracts with the company. However, guessing never ends.
I would like to give my opinions in five reasons:
- The company ignores the idols’ health. The company always asks them to continue the activities even when they are over-working.
- The unfair treatment compared with Korean-born idols. Because of tight schedules, it is impossible for Chinese idols to go back to hometown and have spring festivals with their parents.
- The limitation of personal career. The company makes all the important decisions and there is no freedom to idols.
- The income issue. After working hard, idols can only get little income. More than 70% of income needs to be paid back to the company.
- Chinese entertainment industry is relaxing. Because they already have popularity in China, they are under less pressure and the risk is lower.
Last year, both Han Lu and Tao released their Chinese solo albums and played main roles in Chinese films. They are also top 10 most searched stars in Chinese largest search engine in 2015.