EXO Open Up About SM, Mental Health And Future Plans On ‘Radio Star’

On December 4, EXO made their first appearance as a whole group (the currently active six members) on MBC’s talk show Radio Star. After previously guesting on the show twice, Chen joined Kim Gura, Ahn Youngmi, and Kim Gookjin as the special MC on today’s episode (Ep. 651).

In addition to fun segments – like Suho being requested to show off his abs less than five minutes into the show, Kai demonstrating the iconic “Power” pirouettes, Baekhyun doing impressions, and Chanyeol finishing an entire bottle of water in two seconds – the members finally had a chance to publicly talk about topics like contract renewal, their relationship with SM, the bond between the members, mental health, and more.

When asked whether they have any dissatisfaction toward their company, Suho echoed the grievances of EXO-Ls everywhere by saying that he minds the reduced budget that goes into the production of comebacks and/or tours. Suho went on to explain that in the past, at the height of their popularity with “Growl”, EXO got to travel overseas to film music videos and other content, but now they always film in Korea, and the higher-ups in SM Entertainment explain it as “minimalism”. In addition, when they go on tour, the leader would always get the suite wherever they were staying so that the rest of the members can gather in his room, but in recent years, everybody stays in regular double rooms.

Baekhyun talked about how a lot has changed in the idol industry since their rookie days. EXO didn’t even have phones for the first couple of years, but these days all rookies carry their phones with them.

On top of that, we ate gimbap for an entire year and only two [out of twelve] rolls had tuna in it. (…) But kids these days get ox bone soup.

To this, Kim Gura asked if by “kids” he meant NCT, and Baekhyun immediately answered “yeah”, making everyone in the studio erupt with laughter. Look at him exposing his hoobaes like no big deal!

In terms of the members’ relationship with Lee Sooman, Baekhyun said that it’s hard to get close to the CEO or talk to him one-on-one. However, SuperM were in a group chat with Mr. Lee and he asked them to share their opinions, so Baekhyun took that opportunity. Ironically, though, one time after giving his input, he got lectured by the boss for three and a half hours over the phone.
Kai later mentioned that he feels awkward in a group chat with Lee Sooman because he never knows how to reply to his dad jokes. We’ve all been there…

We learned a few fun facts about EXO as well:

  • Sehun is a big drinker and he usually cures his hangovers by going to the sauna, which is considered very old-school in Korea; also, his stage name was supposed to be Se Oul
  • Chanyeol owns a building, but Suho makes the most money in the group (from musicals and movies)
  • Baekhyun is also one of the richest members, but he spends very little (only about ₩150,000, which is approx. $125) because he is a homebody; most of the earnings go to his family – for example, he helped pay for his older brother’s wedding and bought his parents a bigger house
  • Chanyeol likes biting the members’ butts, except for Suho’s because his gluteal muscles are too firm from working out a lot
  • EXO’s group chat is basically a private chat room for Baekhyun and Chanyeol, who often send memes and funny videos
  • Chanyeol was very touched by D.O. after he had his vocal nodules surgery, as Kyungsoo came by his place often to keep him company and hang out, even though Chanyeol couldn’t even talk
  • Kai is best friends with SHINee’s Taemin and BTS’ Jimin, and he considers himself the funniest in his friend group (Chen disagrees)
  • Suho’s self-given nickname in elementary school was “King of Swag”.

On a more serious note, Kai opened up about the members’ and his own mental health.

My teammates are mentally strong, so I don’t worry about them, but I easily get affected by hate comments. I think that my mental state is bad, which is why I tend to avoid online comments altogether. Also, I blame myself a lot and often have many regrets. I’ve been working on overcoming these flaws.

On the other hand, Suho tries hard to take care of Kai and the rest of the members and give them strength. That’s why he is EXO’s guardian!

Finally, the subject of their contracts with SM Ent. came up and EXO revealed that they still have four years left (two years + enlistment periods) before having to think about renewal. Suho said that they are pretty relaxed about their future for the time being.

We’ve talked about it among ourselves. [Jokingly] I always say that I need to become the director of SM. (…) We decided to stick together no matter what; whether we stay in SM, form our own label or go to a different company.

Sehun previously mentioned that during the most difficult times, he had realized how happy he was to have his hyungs, which gave him strength to go on:

We have been together for nearly ten years, but it’s not just a business relationship. We’ve grown really close, like a family. As I came to realize this, I was able to find strength to overcome the hardship.

At the very end of the show, the host Kim Gookjin had some lovely final words for EXO:

High chart rankings, including Billboard, are great too, but we ask that humans Kim Junmyeon, Byun Baekhyun, Park Chanyeol, Kim Jongin, Oh Sehun, and Kim Jongdae find personal happiness and enjoy their careers together.

We wish the same for them and the members who weren’t there today: Xiumin, D.O., and Lay. Let’s hope that the world gets to enjoy the amazingness of EXO for many more years to come!

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