Fans from different countries, including those from the Philippines, have thrown their support behind K-pop boy band EXO member Chen, who announced on Jan. 13 that he is getting married and hinted that his girlfriend is pregnant.
The fans want him to stay in EXO and issued a statement under the name OT9 Globan Union to declare that “we support the important decision that EXO member Chen and the individual Kim Jongdae has made in his own life” and they want him to stay in the boy band.
“Hence, we announce our support for Chen’s continued activities in EXO and demand SM Entertainment’s continuous care for their artist, Furthermore, we announce that not all EXO-L ACE members have agreed with the statement issued by the ‘EXO-L ACE CAFE,’ which called for Chen’s expulsion from EXO.”
OT9 Globan Union said that “firstly, we must respect the opinions of Kim Jongdae, who is a human being before he is an artist. To intervene or intrude his private life while claiming to be a fan is a clear violation of his privacy. We must never overlook the fact that before he is EXO member Chen, he is an individual who has the right to hold his own secrets and enjoy his privacy.”
According to them, Chen’s decision to get married and create a family are “not a problematic issue. We must accept that what EXO-Ls see is EXO member Chen, which is only one identity of the human named Kim Jongdae.”
In addition, they said, “the decisions of the artist must be respected. Previously on January 13th, through the official fanclub app (Lysn), Chen revealed in a handwritten letter that in the midst of serious communication and discussions with the company as well as the members, a blessing came to find him. This means that his decision was not based solely on his own thoughts.”
They also said that “the image shown to the general public is not only influenced by the artist, but also largely by the fandom. If the title Chen acquires after marriage damages the group’s image, it could be understood that the general public carries an outdated belief in which one cannot get married if they want to be an idol.”
“This mentality refuses to view idols as artists or even as individuals, but instead further highlights the erroneous aspects of idol culture that only promote and commercialize the mere image that idols portray. Such perception is something that must be improved in the future, but regardless, what further damages the images of Chen and the group are the mocking words and curses from certain people who refuse to accept Chen’s private life,” the statement added.
They are demanding SM Entertainment to “continue to support and respect Chen’s promotions in the future. Second, we demand that they quickly deal with the malicious comments and criticism directed towards Chen and EXO. Third, we request their continuous protection of their artist.”
An online petition on change.org supporting Chen and calling on SM Entertainment to protect him against cyberbullying has been signed by more than 126,000 fans as of writing.
Fans supporting Chen also trended hashtags worldwide on Twitter.
On the other hand, about 30 fans (according to a Korean media report) belonging to the EXO-L ACE Union held a silent protest outside the SM Town building at COEX Artium in Gangnam, Seoul to pressure Chen to leave EXO. They held banners including “#Chen_Out” and piled Chen-related merchandise on the ground.