A Brief History of Exo: Ups and Downs

Exo is an internationally recognized Korean boy band that debuted back in 2012. The group has had its fair share of highs and lows throughout their journey. After the initial introduction in the music industry, they didn’t gain much appreciation. Each member was introduced by a series of short teaser videos, which would be later found as clips from their songs.

‘History’ and ‘What is Love’ were the first mini-albums that were pre-released before the real show, ‘Mama’. After the release of this deep-rooted and meaning-infused song, exo’s fame bar skyrocketed. It was a particularly dark themed and well-defined concept with an irresistible rhythm.

Group Members and Division:

EXO debuted as a twelve member boy band but was then subdivided into Mandarin and Korean subsets. EXO-M was aimed at bringing fans from China and EXO-K lured in Koreans with their astonishing songs and praise-worthy dance skills.

A great outcome of this division was infusion of variety in the same song. Two versions of the same lyrics was a new experience for most fans and they loved hearing and comparing them in two different languages.

EXO-K consisted of the group lead, Suho including other members named Baekhyun, Chanyeol, Sehun, Kai and Kyungsoo whereas EXO-M was comprised of mostly Chinese speaking members like Luhan, Lay, Tao and Kris alongside some Korean natives, like Chen and Xiumin.

Initial Upsurge:

The division of the group successfully achieved them the objective of gaining popularity in both regions. Gaon Album Chart and Sina Album Chart ranked EXO-K ‘s and EXO-M’s work as 1st and 2nd most popular respectively. Music Bank later awarded them their first win of music show when they collectively performed a comeback song in 2013. By the end of 2013, EXO had won various titles and award shows like “Song of The Year” and “Album of The Year”.

Only one and a half year later, the name EXO was could be heard from the tongue of every diehard Korean-music fan.

One Step Back:

In 2014, both the sub-groups split up once again to test their luck with the release of ‘Overdose’. People showed an unexpected amount of interest and it ended up being the most pre-ordered extended play, ranking second on Billboard World Albums Chart. Overdose was the best selling song in the album. However, as luck may have it, trouble was about to follow. Kris, the lead member of EXO’s Chinese version filed a lawsuit against their company, claiming that they had misused the terms of the contract. He claimed that despite his health issues, SM did not allow him a break and were involved in making unfair profit. A while later, Luhan, one of the most loved members of EXO’s Chinese counterpart followed him in filing a similar lawsuit against the company.

A division of fans occurred as some believed and supported the Chinese members and condemned the discrimination happening between Chinse and Korean members of the groups. Whereas others believed that it was unprofessional and an aggressive act to hinder the rapidly growing fame of EXO-K.

More Drama and More Fame:

A few more releases and awards later in which Tao, another member of EXO-M was absent due to an injury, another lawsuit followed suite. Tao stood behind the first two members and stood up for himself against the unfair conduct and contract requirements of SM Entertainment.

While 2015 was the year of various successful releases and concerts with an influx of different worldwide award wins and recognition on a global level, the continuing lawsuits brought a negative uproar from the earlier year.

Once Lay, the fourth Chinese member distanced himself from the group to focus on his solo activities in China, the growth of the group seized and a group’s sub-unit, EXO-CBX featuring three members was brought forth.

Fast forward to the recent times, the group is now majorly and geographically divided due to Korean military enlistment requirements. As some members reached the age to meet this requirement, others decided to step towards drama industries. Some formed duos and others opted to go solo in their careers.


Despite many setbacks, EXO maintained its charm and kept climbing the ladder of success. Fans across the world still love and appreciate their work collectively or individually. People have chosen their own biases and love to show their love and support by investing in exo’s official merchandise. If you are one of those people looking for an exo merchandise online shop, you can visit us for quality products!