EXO: Behind their smiles are a world of speechless pains

EXO, a K-pop boy group, has faced significant obstacles and endured hardships, including member departures and injury, alongside their extraordinary rise to fame, numerous awards, and records since debuting in 2012.

Starting with 12 members, “making an explosion” in all battles from Korea to China, setting a number of records and receiving many reputed awards, EXO has become one of the most mentioned names in Kpop history. However, their 5-year journey not only witnesses their smiles but also includes a lot of difficulties, bitters and even tears.

It’s been 5 years since EXO – one of the most famous Kpop boygroups – debuted and appeared in front of the public in 2012. During those 5 years, EXO accomplished amazing achievements that made many other rookies “wary” whenever its name was mentioned
Every time their album was released, they set another new “record” and got a lot of attention from their fans. No matter where their world tour concerts took place, they always enchanted their fans with attractive performances. More especially, at the moment, they are still trying hard to bring the most perfect music products to their fans.
Nevertheless, behind the edge of glory are the pains and challenges waiting to fall down on their shoulders. 5 years is not a long time, but EXO faced a lot of difficulties and received many criticisms from netizens
Going on a long journey, EXO has currently become one of the “walls” that are hard to be broken in Kbiz history

A dark beginning

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Unlike SM artists debuting in the past, EXO was considered as a “hateful child” in the public’s eyes when the media was widely spreading the information about a new project of SM Entertainment. According to those sources, it would debut 2 sub-units named EXO-K and EXO-M to work in Korea and China at the same time. Everybody really cared and was curious about it, wondering if this boygroup could do something extraordinary or this was just a failed project which was promoted a lot by SM

On 8 Apr 2012, EXO had an official debut performance at Inkigayo. They were ironized and seriously criticized for lack of talents. EXO then kept silent in a long time and no longer showed up until 2013.

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At that time, the boys received many criticisms from the public who thought they were not talented and they were famous just because of SM’s reputation

In 2013, EXO made a comeback with 2 songs Wolf and Growl. They continued to be neglected and were even called “the group with animals’ voices”. The members faced many pressures and their fans also suffered a lot of bitters. That was a dark time which was thought to completely overwhelm the boygroup. They encouraged one another: Everything will be fine, we just need to try our best. We just need have a passion.


From a group that was call “a failure and a waste of investment” of SM, EXO set their first record, coming closer to the title “top Kpop idol”. During their first days of debut, people said that “Finally, SM already failed”, but EXO stood still on the stage and proved that they were all wrong!
EXO practiced day and night, made MVs and waited for their comeback. Many fans told a memory when they stood in front of SM’s building, waiting to see EXO’s members. However, they had to wait the whole night, and even until late afternoon of the next day, they still saw the lights of practice room on.

The boys practiced day and night not only to prove that everyone was wrong but also to express their passion for singing. Those boys simply just wanted to stand on the stage and make the dream they had been following come true.

EXO’s fans will surely never forget their first winning with Wolf on Music Bank on 14 Jun 2013, which made Suho bursted to tears on the stage because he was too happy. In the backstage, Lay was tearful, Kai’s best friend Taemin teased him as he was crying like a child in the corner of the room. After serious cusses and criticisms, EXO finally won.

Those were the tears when these talented boys were finally recognized by the public and their day-and-night efforts were worthily paid off

Continuous injuries


To every fan, there’s nothing worse than seeing their idols suffering physical pains and they can’t do anything for them. For many times, EXO’s fans have witnessed their boys sitting on a wheelchair or wearing an arm sling because they get injured while performing or practicing
That they frown because of the pain or they feel tired and exhausted in the backstage always prevent EXO-Ls from literally smiling. They only hope time stop for a while so that their idols can take a rest and recover. But their schedules are unchangeable and EXO is at the peak of its career, so they can’t ignore the group’s activities just to live for themselves. And SM will surely never let it happen
The one who is most injured is Kai – EXO’s proud dancing machine. As he is the main dancer of EXO, his hips, back and thighs are usually injured. On his first days of debut, Kai usually felt painful because of the injuries on his body. There was a time when Kai didn’t show up at an EXO’s concert because his injury was too serious and prevented him from performing.

Considered as a “dancing machine”, Kai can dance all kinds of music genre
However, Kai made fans worried and heartbroken when he showed up with injuries like this for many times

Same as Kai, Lay’s fans used to have a heart attack when he showed up on a wheelchair at the airport because he couldn’t walk by himself. His fans criticized SM for arranging too tight schedules which their idol’s body couldn’t adapt, but heartbreaking incidents like this still happen frequently

Lay also made his fans extremely worried as he had to go to hospital for injury treatment on this day…
… and on the next day, he happily smiled at the airport to start his planned schedules on time

Heartbroken when 3 members decided to leave

Memories about Kris, Luhan and Tao are what make EXO-Ls, especially those fans who have been following the group since their debut, sad the most. Before, 12 members together overcame a long year when they froze all activities. Finally, when the group just reached the top with Growl, we had to witness this heartbreaking disunion

To those fans who have been following EXO since their first days of debut, the leaving of Luhan, Kris and Tao was a tragedy

More especially, when Kris left right before the group’s concert, their fans clearly saw the internal disagreement of EXO when remaining members unfollowed him on SNS one by one. Tao even posted a long status on Instagram and Weibo to criticize Kris for betraying EXO. The group leader Subo also frankly stated in his interview that what Kris did was irresponsible and confusing
However, after a short time, Luhan and Tao also left the group. Especially, Tao made his fans disappointed because he used to promise that he wouldn’t leave EXO and begged them to believe him. That 3 members left the group within a short time seriously affected EXO’s fandom and even the group members had to go through a difficult period of time

Dating scandals continuously appear

EXO is a new young boygroup who is extremely attractive, especially to women and girls. The characteristic of the entertainment industry allows EXO to meet and work with many female artists and it’s unavoidable for them to have affection on somebody.
However, their dating news is spread to their fans in the most tragic way. For example, when Dispatch revealed the dating scandal of Baekhyun and Taeyeon (SNSD), their both fandoms were totally shocked. That the news was too surprising and netizens keep deducing the couple’s love hints made their fans hurt.

Baekhyun and Taeyeon’s dating scandal led to a fight which was supposed to be endless between the 2 fandoms who are most populous in Kpop.
Even after their breakup, when Taeyeon took a photo showing off her earphones, Korean netizens also “assumed” it was a couple item with Baekhyun and continued their arguments on SNS

Besides that, Kai and Krystal’s dating scandal also had an influence on their fandoms. At first, the relationship of the beautiful couple from SM was supported by a lot of people. But gradually, when netizens found out Kai hung out with Krystal during his break time for recovering his injury, he received many criticisms. Moreover, netizens were also mad at the dating scandal of D.O and Sojin (Girl’s Day) as well as an unfounded photo of Chen’s going on a vacation with his girlfriend in L.A

Up to now, the relationship of this beautiful couple has made my fans feel sorry because they quickly “went on their own ways” after a short time dating
Or fans also suddenly heard shocking rumors like D.O.’s dating with Sojin (Girl’s Day)



The rumor of Chen’s girlfriend also made fans surprised

Respect what they have

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4 years later, on that ship, there are 9 people with new appearances. Kai and Sehun are no longer little maknaes, D.O. becomes a qualified actor and talks more on TV, Suho, Xiumin, Baekhyun and Chanyeol develop their acting and singing career at the same time, Chen is a successful solo singer, and Lay actively promotes EXO in China. 3 members who already left also found their own standings in another world. They changed and became more mature after many years.
Despite being disadvantaged due to EXO’s incidents for many times, fans never stop loving these talented boys. EXO-Ls are still the strongest fandom in Kpop no matter what. Having a strong fandom supporting and believing in them, there’s nothing to be surprised at when EXO can reach the top, becoming one of the most famous K-pop boygroups in the past 10 years

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